Vienna group makes vaccine headway in toxic shock syndrome


Decades after the condition was first documented in the 1980s, researchers say they have made the world’s first vaccine for toxic shock syndrome. In an early study, the vaccine--developed from detoxified Staphylococcus--was found to be safe and effective.

A joint effort between staff at the Medical University of Vienna’s Department of Clinical Pharmacology and the Vienna biopharma Biomedizinische Forschungsgesellschaft mbH tested the experimental vaccine in 46 young men and women. Phase I results demonstrated that the vaccine has “practically no side effects,” according to the team’s statement. When injected into skin, the vaccine induces the production of antibodies that kick into gear upon detecting a risk, the team said.

Bernd Jilma, an associate professor at MedUni Vienna, said the vaccine's interaction with the body is similar to a tetanus vaccination, explaining the immunization “lasts for 5 years or more.”

A life-threatening complication of infection by S. aureus or group A streptococcus bacteria, TSS has typically been connected with use of superabsorbent tampons, according to Mayo Clinic. Symptoms include high fever, vomiting, low blood pressure or a rash. Though very rare, it can lead to organ failure and impact anyone.

"Nevertheless, in 50% of cases the disease is associated with menstruation in young women," Jilma said in the statement. Those with a compromised immune system stand at a greater risk, and so could be “preventively vaccinated,” the team concluded.

Next up is a Phase II trial, which the group says is underway and seeking volunteers. The vaccine is “some years” away from clinical use, Biomedizinische Forschungsgesellscaft mbH director Martha Eibl said in the release.

The Phase I results were published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases.

- here’s the release
- and the abstract

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