That nasty strep throat could be a thing of the past, according to researchers at the University of California San Diego.
Researchers have taken a huge step forward in the effort to develop a vaccine against the bacteria, Group A Streptococcus, responsible for strep throat, toxic shock syndrome and flesh-eating disease.
The nasty breed of bacteria can cause a number of infections, but are usually relatively mild. They can occasionally be life threatening.
The CDC says around 500,000 people die each year from this bacteria.
The study, published in Nature Microbiology, details the findings of a previously undetected pattern in the outer protein coat of group A strep.
These patterns limit the body's immune response against the bacteria.
“When we become infected with a particular strain of group A Strep, we generally mount an immune response against the particular M protein displayed by that strain,” explained lead researcher Partho Ghosh in a statement. “But this immunity works only against the infecting strain.”
Ghosh says the bacteria is a master of disguise. “This is because the antibody response against the M protein is almost always specific to the sequence of that M protein, and M proteins of different types appear to be unrelated in sequence to one another,” Ghosh said.
It may be years before this vaccine reaches the market.