Research Spotlight: Gas Vaccine Trial
“We’ve been building up to this for years”
Group A Streptococcus is a bacteria responsible for approximately 500,000 deaths every year globally. Particularly common in indigenous populations in Canada and Australia, this has led to a joint effort between the two countries in the form of the GAS Vaccine Trial led by Dr. Michael Good of Griffith University in Australia.
For the last 30 years, Professor Good has been researching the immunology of GAS. In the early 90s, he identified a small segment on the surface of the bacteria that was found on all strains of the bacteria. This was the key to developing an effective vaccine, and since then, work has proceeded to make a vaccine a reality. Alongside Canadian colleagues Dr. Lorne Tyrell, Dr. Michael Houghton, and Dr. Michael Hawkes, they have tried to engineer a clinical trial to try and create a vaccine that is simple to administer, safe, and universally effective against all strains of Group A Strep.
In November of 2022, incredible progress was made as the First-in-Human portion of trial was launched. Volunteer Alexa Thompson received the vaccine under the supervision of the research team. This was not only a first for the world of Strep research, but for U of A as well as this was the first time that they demonstrated that they were able to go from bench to bedside in a clinical trial. This trial has been a truly international collaboration, and with the world-class dedication of it’s research team, success has never been closer.