The global impact of the coronavirus pandemic has sparked a renewed focus on emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases. Researchers at Osaka Metropolitan University are making great strides in the fight against pneumococcal pneumonia, one of the leading causes of respiratory deaths worldwide.
Despite the existence of vaccines against pneumococcal infections such as otitis media, sinusitis and meningitis, the prevalence of pneumococcal pneumonia remains high. Currently, about 100 new serotypes of Streptococcus pneumoniae have been identified and the increase in pneumococcal infections caused by serotypes not covered by the vaccine has become alarming. This situation highlights the need for a more versatile vaccine.
Based on their previous success in mucosal responses in 2019, in which they developed a mucosal vaccine that can induce antigen-specific mucosal immune responses, mainly immunoglobulin A (IgA), at the target mucosal surface, a research team led by Professor Satoshi Uematsu and collaborator Professor Kosuke Fujimoto from the Department of Immunology and Genomics at the Graduate School of Medicine, Osaka Metropolitan University, this time aims to bridge the gap in vaccination effectiveness against pneumococcal pneumonia.
To successfully develop a new pneumococcal vaccine, the research team combined their proprietary mucosal vaccine technology with pneumococcal surface proteins that can cover a wide range of serotypes. Experiments done in mice and macaques showed the effectiveness of the vaccine in suppressing pneumococcal pneumonia in the target groups of animals.
“This research succeeded in developing a vaccine formulation that can potentially be used in humans, which will advance the development of this vaccine for clinical applications,” said Professor Fujimoto. “This next-generation vaccine technology is expected to contribute to the treatment of infectious diseases in the future.”