James Dale Receives Grant for Development of Strep Throat Vaccine

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James Dale, MD, Gene H. Stollerman Professor of Medicine and chief, Division of Infectious Diseases at UTHSC, has received a grant for $315,000 from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, a subsidiary of NIH.

James Dale, MD, Gene H. Stollerman Professor of Medicine and chief, Division of Infectious Diseases at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC), has received a grant for $315,000 from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, a subsidiary of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Funding will be used to continue the development of vaccines against one of the most common bacterial infections in humans, streptococcal sore throat, more commonly known as strep throat. Subject to funds availability and project progress, the grant is renewable annually over five years with a projected total value of $1,575,000.

The project titled, “Vaccine Prevention of Group A Streptococcal Infections,” is an extension of ongoing work by Dr. Dale and his research team. Their work has resulted in the discovery, development and clinical testing of highly complex recombinant M protein-based vaccines to prevent streptococcal infections in North America and Europe. The new funding will allow Dr. Dale and his colleagues to identify a new generation of vaccines that can extend the potential coverage of treatment in areas of the world where group A streptococcal infections account for 90 percent of the global disease burden.

Group A streptococcal infections cause a number of clinical syndromes, ranging from uncomplicated strep throat and skin infections to serious infections that include sepsis, toxic shock syndrome, and pneumonia. In some individuals, infections can also trigger acute rheumatic fever, rheumatic heart disease or acute kidney disease.

“The world needs a safe, effective and affordable vaccine to prevent streptococcal infections and their most serious complications,” said Dr. Dale. “The new funding from the NIH will support the basic research needed to develop a vaccine for the entire world that could have a major impact on the health of millions of people.”

In the United States, the economic toll of streptococcal sore throat alone is estimated to be $2 billion. However, the most significant burden resulting from these infections is rheumatic heart disease, which remains rampant in poorer countries and results in nearly one million premature deaths annually.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH), the nation’s medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.