October 5, 2023

Experimental vaccine aims to prevent hospital-acquired infections

Editor's Note

An experimental vaccine designed by researchers at University of Southern California has been shown to prevent serious infections from drug-resistant pathogens, according to an October 2023 study published by Science Translational Medicine. In this study, titled "A protein-free vaccine stimulates innate immunity and protects against nosocomial pathogens," the researchers found that one dose provided quick protection against eight different bacteria and fungi species in mouse models.

The vaccine is made from three ingredients, two of which are already approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for vaccines; the third is from a fungus found on human skin. In animal models, the vaccine works within 24 hours and lasts for up to 28 days, significantly increasing the number of pathogen-eating immune cells in the blood, the researchers noted.

Infections acquired in healthcare settings kill more than 90,000 people in the US each year, costing between $28 billion and $45 billion. One in 31 hospital patients has an infection from a healthcare setting on any given day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Many of these hospital-acquired infections (HAIs) are caused by “superbugs” like MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureas) or Acinetobacter baumannii and spread via contaminated surfaces or equipment, or from contaminated hands. ICU patients are at greatest risk of HAIs, according to the study.

The researchers suggest the patented vaccine be administered to people on entry to hospitals in order to prevent healthcare-related infections. They are beginning to talk with potential pharmaceutical partners that might be interested in advancing the vaccine.


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