Brigham and Women's aims to stomp out lethal pneumonia

Hospital patients, particularly those on respirators, can contract infections from bacteria known as Pseudomonas aeruginosa. However, researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston say they discovered a new vaccine candidate that aims to fight such infections.

Researchers observed protection from lethal pneumonia in mice after either active or passive immunization, according to a study published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

No known vaccine exists to stomp out the bacteria, which is also responsible for some lung infections in people with cystic fibrosis.

The vaccine is based on a new system of immunity to Pseudomonas assisted by T helper 17 (Th17) cells, according to a release. The Th17 cells secrete the cytokine IL-17 and boost antibacterial mucosal defenses.

"People have been trying to make vaccines for Pseudomonas for more than 40 years," Dr. Gregory Priebe, assistant professor of anesthesia in the Division of Infectious Disease at Brigham and Women's, told FierceVaccines. "Most bacterial vaccines use kind of the other armor of the immune system, meaning antibodies. You really need both; you need antibody and these T helper 17 cells."

Researchers have been working on vaccines for both the acute infections and for Pseudomonas and cystic fibrosis, Priebe said.

"Ultimately, we want to make a subunit to our protein vaccine, rather than using a live attenuated vaccine," he said.

- here's the release
- read the Boston Business Journal story

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