University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics: Vaccinating Away MRSA
"Instead of immunizing against [Staphylococcus causing bacteria], we prevented the organism from being able to set up the disease," says Patrick Schlievert, PhD, professor and chair of microbiology at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine and lead researcher of the study.
In animal model trials trials, the vaccine provided sterilizing immunity, meaning it produced an immune response completely eliminating the infection. In one trial, Dr. Schlievert and researchers introducedStaphylococcus bacteria into rabbits at extremely high doses, up to four million times more bacteria than normal. When the researchers injected their vaccine and then administered theStaphylococcus bacteria into the rabbits' lungs, 86 of the 88 rabbits had sterilizing immunity after seven days.
The next step for the Iowa researchers is conducting safety studies, which Dr. Schlievert says could be complete as early as in the next couple of years, pending FDA approval. If all goes well, the implications of this vaccine could be greatly effective and potentially eliminate the threat of certain Staphylococcus infections for good.
"The bad thing is Staphylococcus aureus varieties come and go. They emerge and they disappear and new strains come and they disappear," Dr. Schlievert says. "The thing we've seen consistently over the years is these three targets that we have are maintained over the long term, so we think by protecting against them, we will have a vaccine that will work against any variety of Staphylococcus aureus and would extend into the future."