Researchers at Imperial College London are working on an exciting new project to accelerate group B Strep vaccine development. Led by Dr Kirsty Le Doare, Senior Clinical Lecturer, and funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the project is developing laboratory tests to establish what level of antibodies a baby needs to get from Mum to achieve protection against GBS infection.
Dr Le Doare is working closely with both the World Health Organisation and the three pharmaceutical companies currently developing a group B Strep vaccine – GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer, and Minervax, who will then be able to use this test to establish their vaccine’s effectiveness.
The aim of a group B Strep vaccine is to enable protective levels of antibodies to pass from Mum to her unborn baby to protect against GBS infection. This would protect newborn babies (who may currently be protected with antibiotics in labour), plus those born preterm or stillborn as a result of GBS, as well as those who suffer late onset GBS infections (up to age 3 months), for which there is no current prevention available. The vaccine may also protect against GBS infections in the mother, which although rare can be very serious.
Dr Le Doare anticipates the test and results about the level of antibodies needed will be available by 2019, roughly the same time at which the three GBS vaccines will be ready to be tested. If the research progresses as hoped, a GBS vaccine could be launched in 2022 and once all regulatory processes are finished, could be licensed and ready for use as early as 2025.
Watch Dr Le Doare and the team at Imperial College talk about this exciting project above or at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T3MlUIGXN9w.