UTHSC Researcher Wins $3.9 Million Grant to Develop Universal Vaccine

Aug 09, 2017 at 10:54 am by admin

James B. Dale, MD

James B. Dale, MD, professor of medicine and chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC), recently received a $3,942,923 grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases for his project titled "Structure-Based Design of a Broadly Protective Group A Streptococcal Vaccine."

The funding will be used to develop a safe, broadly effective, and affordable vaccine to prevent Group A streptococcal (GAS) infections, most commonly known as strep throat, and their complications.

Group A streptococcal infections can range from a mild skin infection or a sore throat, to severe, invasive infections such as toxic shock syndrome, bacteremia (bloodstream infection), and pneumonia. In some cases, individuals with GAS infections may develop glomerulonephritis (acute inflammation of the kidney), rheumatic fever, or rheumatic heart disease. These more serious diseases can lead to significant morbidity and mortality, especially in underdeveloped countries and impoverished pockets of developed nations.

Dr. Dale, together with a UT lab in Knoxville and researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, are developing an entirely new approach to GAS vaccine design and development. Ultimately aiming to tackle the global morbidity and mortality caused by Group A streptococcal invasive infections and their complications, Dr. Dale and his team are using the new funding to develop a universal vaccine that could have a major impact on the health of millions of people worldwide.

This project is a continuation of over 30 years of ongoing research done by Dr. Dale, who has been with UTHSC since the 1980s, and his team. The project is slated to continue through 2022.

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