WHAT IS GBS?
Group B Streptococcus (GBS) is the leading cause of neonatal/infant infection, causing approximately 320,000 infections and 90,000 infant deaths globally each year. Newborns acquire GBS from their mothers who are unknowingly carrying the GBS bacteria. The only prevention currently available is to give pregnant women intravenous antibiotics during labour; however, this is only if the bacteria is detected during their pregnancy. If not detected, the disease can go on to present itself through infections such as sepsis or meningitis in the first 3 months of the babies’ life.
GBS is still a relatively rare disease, especially here in the UK. For this reason, GBS is not always detected using the current screening methods. When it is detected, the current antibiotics treatment does not always prevent all cases of the disease. GBS vaccines are currently being investigated to protect individuals and newborns against the disease. The Vaccinology Team at St George’s, University of London are involved in being a part of this ground-breaking research.
WHAT DO WE HOPE TO ACHIEVE?
Prof Kirsty Le Doare is a Professor and Honorary Paediatric Infectious Diseases and Immunology Consultant within the Centre for Neonatal and Paediatric Infection (CNPI) at St. George’s, University of London. Prof Le Doare and her laboratory are currently undertaking several studies to answer important questions about serocorrelates of protection in pregnant women in Uganda and the UK, and are also working on the standardisation of the GBS antibody. We hope that our collaborations with leading academic institutions, the WHO, regulators and key players in industry will significantly help towards the design of more efficient and safe vaccines to protect new born babies from life-threatening GBS disease.