Commissioning

04.02.20

ICL study shows benefits of tailor-made vaccines

A study carried out by Wellcome Sanger Institute, Simon Fraser University and Imperial College London has revealed tailor-made vaccines could greatly reduce rate of infection among disease-causing bacterium.

The study published in Nature Microbiology, used genomic data, models of bacterial evolution and predictive modelling to give researchers an idea of how effective different strains of vaccines would be for particular demographics.

The scientists tested their theories on people from different age groups, geographic regions and bacterial communities using different strains of the S. pneumonia bacterium

S. pneumoniae can cause serious bacterial infections such as pneumonia, sepsis and meningitis – known collectively as invasive pneumococcal disease (IPD)

S. pneumoniae vaccines vary in their effectiveness throughout the world because they are caused by different serotypes - groups of strains with similar features – making using the same vaccine worldwide ineffective.

Dr Nicholas Croucher, of the MRC Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis, Imperial College London, said:

“Our research shows that the best vaccine designs strongly depend on the bacterial strains present in the population, which vary considerably between countries.

“The best vaccine designs also depend on the age group being vaccinated. These ideas will be critical for applying lessons learned from introducing vaccines in high-income countries to combatting the disease where the burden is highest.”

When serotypes are removed from circulation by a particular vaccine, other serotypes of S. pneumoniae rise to take their place. Some of the new serotypes, however, can be more dangerous than the original ones. Using several techniques, researchers used computers to test vaccines with different combinations of serotype to see which vaccine is most effective in a particular region.

 Professor Jukka Corander, of the University of Oslo, University of Helsinki and the Wellcome Sanger Institute, said:

“The approach we describe in this study will play an important role in accelerating future vaccine discovery and design to help reduce rates of disease.”

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