Researchers at the University of Alberta (U of A) and Griffith University in Australia have commenced a Phase I clinical trial to analyse a potential strep A vaccine.

The trial is being carried out as part of a global partnership between the universities.

Anticipated to enrol ten to 20 subjects, the trial will be carried out at the U of A.

Its objective is to demonstrate the safety and efficacy of the vaccine.

On demonstrating the success of the vaccine in this trial, the Li Ka Shing Applied Virology Institute intends to back the shot’s Phase II trials enrolling more patients.

Scientists at Griffith developed the vaccine by merging two molecules seen on each strep A strain, a method the team hopes will boost the immune response of the body against all strains.

Griffith holds the intellectual property for the vaccine.

The trial is based on several years of investment in initial-stage clinical trials and facilities for Phase I studies at the U of A.

Infection caused by Group A streptococcus bacteria, also called strep A, leads to the death of more than 500,000 people every year.

There currently exists no vaccine for the ailment.

Strep A can cause various severe conditions including rheumatic fever and necrotising fasciitis, or flesh-eating disease.

It can also lead to various neurological ailments such as Sydenham chorea, a disease that impacts children and is characterised by continuous movement.

University of Alberta Department of Pediatrics professor Lawrence Richer said: “It’s really an ideal circumstance for these types of trials to be done under the safest conditions possible.”

He added that the infrastructure offered through NACTRC, Alberta Health Services, and the U of A is vital to back the scientists at the university.