Pneumococcal Vaccines



  • Streptococcus pneumoniae is a Gram-Positive pathogen that is a major causative agent of pneumonia, otitis media, sepsis and meningitis across the world. The World Health Organization estimates that globally over 500,000 children are killed each year by this pathogen. Vaccines offer the best protection against S. pneumoniae infections. The current polysaccharide conjugate vaccines have been very effective in reducing rates of invasive pneumococcal disease caused by vaccine type strains. However, the effectiveness of these vaccines have been somewhat diminished by the increasing numbers of cases of invasive disease caused by non-vaccine type strains, a phenomenon known as serotype replacement. Since, there are currently at least 98 known serotypes of S. pneumoniae, it may become cumbersome and expensive to add many additional serotypes to the current 13-valent vaccine, to circumvent the effect of serotype replacement. Hence, alternative serotype independent strategies, such as vaccination with highly cross-reactive pneumococcal protein antigens, should continue to be investigated to address this problem. This chapter provides a comprehensive discussion of pneumococcal vaccines past and present, protein antigens that are currently under investigation as vaccine candidates, and other alternatives, such as the pneumococcal whole cell vaccine, that may be successful in reducing current rates of disease caused by S. pneumoniae.
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