Vaccines for staphylococcal disease

The Staphylococcus group of bacteria represents some of the most important bacterial pathogens to humans. Infections caused by this group result in skin, wound, and deep infections which are potentially life-threatening. Resistant strains, such as MRSA, are routinely spread in hospital environments, and there have been instances of continent-wide epidemics. Available treatments range from antibiotic creams for minor infections to surgery and prolonged courses of antibiotics for more serious conditions. There is currently no effective, commercially available vaccine for staphylococcal infections.

Oxford researchers are developing a viral vectored, multi-valent vaccine incorporating newly characterised antigens to protect against staphylococcal bacteria. Pre-clinical data indicates that there is the potential of developing a single-dose vaccine to induce effective and robust immunity against staphylococcal bacteria. Such a vaccine would have global applicability in the fight against a common set of infections, which are also prevalent in livestock.

Staphylococcal infections

Staphylococcal infections are a group of infections caused by the bacterium genus Staphylococcus, the majority of which are caused by the Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) species. This includes Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA), which is resistant to commonly used antibiotics and is a major risk to hospital patients. Most infections are relatively minor in nature, causing symptoms such as boils, abscesses and cellulitis. However, in some cases, these minor infections can lead to far more serious systemic disease which can be fatal. S. aureus infections also cause a major problem in livestock; for example, it is one of the most common causes of bovine mastitis.

Despite the prevalence of staphylococcal infections, there is currently no commercially available vaccine. The failure of a recent large randomised control trial has demonstrated the need for new approaches. Current treatments include antibiotic tablets and creams for minor infections, however, invasive infections require surgical treatment in hospital with prolonged periods of antibiotic therapy. The resistance of MRSA to a large number of antibiotics makes reactive treatment even more difficult.

 

Towards an effective vaccine

Oxford researchers have characterised a new candidate vaccine component that, when delivered by viral vectors, can induce strong and effective protection against staphylococcal infections. Pre-clinical data has demonstrated the ability to substantially reduce the bacterial load during early infection with a single dose of such a vaccine. Such levels of protective efficacy have never previously been demonstrated with any Staphylococcus antigen. It is anticipated that this development will lead to the achievement of high-level protection against these clinically significant infections.

Commercialisation

This technology is the subject of an international patent application, published as WO2014/053861. Oxford University Innovation is seeking industrial partners to support the development of a first commercially available vaccine for S. aureus.

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