Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

Tech & Science

Eight pathogens & one vaccine: Superbugs could be thwarted by an unconventional vaccine

Researchers have designed a new vaccine formula to prevent serious infections from drug-resistant pathogens.

WTO head Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala says a breakthrough between the EU, US, India and South Africa on waiving intellectual property rights on Covid-19 vaccines is a major step forward
WTO head Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala says a breakthrough between the EU, US, India and South Africa on waiving intellectual property rights on Covid-19 vaccines is a major step forward - Copyright AFP/File CHARLY TRIBALLEAU
WTO head Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala says a breakthrough between the EU, US, India and South Africa on waiving intellectual property rights on Covid-19 vaccines is a major step forward - Copyright AFP/File CHARLY TRIBALLEAU

A new vaccine shot, to be tested in clinical trial, could protect patients from multiple types of hospital-acquired infections. The outcome could be remarkable: A vaccine, given to patients just before or after arriving at the hospital, and one that would protect them against the dangerous superbugs that potentially exist in many healthcare settings.

The types of pathogens of concern include methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and Acinetobacter baumannii. These infections can be spread via contaminated surfaces or equipment, such as catheters or ventilators, or though person-to-person spread, often from contaminated hands. Risk is highest among ICU patients, who may suffer surgical-site infections, bloodstream infections, urinary tract infections and ventilator-associated pneumonia.

The other target organisms are: vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus faecalis, extended-spectrum beta-lactamase–expressing Escherichia coli, and carbapenem-resistant strains of Klebsiella pneumoniae and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. The vaccine also conferred protection against the fungi Rhizopus delemar and Candida albicans.

There are currently no FDA-approved vaccines that prevent the most serious, antibiotic-resistant infections. The experimental vaccine takes a different approach to conventional vaccines. It was invented by a USC-led team and patented by the university.

Researchers designed the formula to prevent serious infections from drug-resistant pathogens. This is a protein-free vaccine, composed of aluminum hydroxide, monophosphoryl lipid A, and fungal mannan.

The experimental vaccine activates the body’s pre-existing supply of pathogen-gobbling immune cells called macrophages, which engulf and digest bacteria and. These activated cells, found in all tissues, quickly neutralize incoming invaders which might otherwise multiply rapidly and overwhelm the body’s defences.

The vaccine consists of just three ingredients, two of which are already used in U.S. FDA-approved vaccines. A third component is a tiny piece from the surface of a fungus commonly found on human skin.

The study shows that a single dose, administered in mouse models, put immune cells into a more efficient mode, providing rapid protection against eight different bacteria and fungi species.

The vaccine functions to ensure the immune system functions effectively in detecting pathogens early and triggering an appropriate immune response.

Lead researcher Brad Spellberg puts this across, using somewhat bizarre language, as: “You’re alerting the soldiers and tanks of your immune system. The vaccine activates them. ‘Oh my, there’s danger here. I better turn into the Hulk.’ I mean, when you have bad superbugs lurking, that’s when you want the Hulk waiting to pounce rather than Dr. Banner, right?”

The U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, provided the researchers’ startup company, ExBaq LLC, with nearly $1 million in the form of a small business grant.

The research has been published in the journal Science Translational Medicine. The paper is titled “A protein-free vaccine stimulates innate immunity and protects against nosocomial pathogens.”

Avatar photo
Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, business, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

You may also like:

Tech & Science

We were surprised to find that different gut microbes spread through social contacts and shared environments.

Business

OpenAI co-founder Ilya Sutskever and "superalignment" team co-leader Jan Leike announced their departures from the ChatGPT-maker this week.

Tech & Science

Artificial intelligence built on mountains of potentially biased information has created a real risk of automating discrimination.

Tech & Science

GenZ does not see home ownership as a priority, or even an attainable goal, as previous generations did.