SYDNEY, Sept. 5 (Xinhua) -- A new vaccine developed by Australia's Griffith University in collaboration with Canada research partners may hold the potential to treat toxic shock caused by invasive streptococcal disease.
Belonging to the same bacterial group which causes common and non-life-threatening ailments such as school sores and tonsillitis, in about one in 100 cases an organism created by streptococcus (Strep A) can enter the body and become invasive streptococcal disease (ISD).
In some instances, ISD can then turn into streptococcal toxic shock syndrome (STSS).
With around 160,000 deaths per year and a mortality rate of over 25 percent, program leader and laboratory head Professor Michael Good said on Thursday that "STSS is an acute condition like meningococcus. If you get exposed to the organism you can be dead within a matter of days or less."
"So we're hopeful that what we've discovered can help save lives."
Showing positive results when tested on mice models, the new vaccine named J8 was able to reduce bacteria in both the spleen and blood after infection.
Although researchers originally set out to find a way to prevent rheumatic heart disease, which is also caused by Strep A, the team thought the vaccine may also hold promise when it comes to STSS.
"In our transgenic mice model, we showed that two proteins are important for the disease - Superantigen toxin (SpeC) and the M protein, which our vaccine candidate J8 comes from," Good said.
"We vaccinated the transgenic mice and it could prevent toxic shock, but as importantly we were able to make antibodies in normal mice which we could use to treat sick mice.
"When the transgenic mice became very ill, we treated them with the vaccine antibodies and they recovered overnight. The organisms, as well as the toxin were cleared from their blood."
While the research team admitted there's still a number more preparations to be made before J8 will be ready for the public, they hope to begin human trials within the next two years.