Strep Vaccine Tests Planned

A vaccine to prevent strep throat and rheumatic fever will be tested for the first time in humans this summer.

Researchers recently received clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to begin the first clinical trials of the vaccine.

Dr. James Dale, the University of Tennessee scientist who helped develop it, said the vaccine could help prevent the 25 million U.S. illnesses caused by a type of bacteria known as Group A streptococci.

Dale is working with scientists at ID Biomedical Corp. of Seattle and the National Institutes of Health.

Dale, an infectious disease physician at UT-Memphis and the Veterans Affairs Medical Center, said blood tests will be conducted to determine the effectiveness of the vaccine.

It could be tested in children within five years, he said.

"Our primary goal in these first human tests is to assure the safety of the vaccine, but we also hope to see these individuals develop antibodies in their immune responses that should protect them against infection," Dale said.

"That will be a huge step in our overall goal of preventing diseases caused by streptococci infection."