Australian researchers begin human trials on Streptococcus A vaccine

Australia's Griffith University's Institute for Glycomics recently launched human trials for a new vaccine against Streptococcus A.

Professor Michael Good is the principal research leader at the Institute for Glycomics. He has devoted more than 20 years to investigating new ways to beat the illness and the virus that causes it. He said the key to the new vaccine lies in targeting a protein found on the surface of the Streptococcus A bacteria, according to

"Previous studies have shown that the vaccine induces a very effective immune response in rabbits and mice," Good said, reports. "The next important step is to ensure that it is safe and does not cause any adverse effects in people, in particular that the vaccine itself doesn't cause any heart damage."

Streptococcus A is the germ that causes rheumatic fever, which can cause a serious of long term health problems, including severe heart damage. Former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has had heart surgery twice to repair the damage caused by a childhood bout with rheumatic fever.

The new human trials will involve 20 adults and last approximately one year, according to

"Participants will be monitored very closely for the next 12 months," Professor James McCarthy, the trial's leader, said, reports. "Each volunteer will be given two doses of the vaccine and we'll be watching carefully for any signs of heart problems."