South Africa: New Group B Strep Vaccine Partnership

PATH, the Gates Foundation, and Biovac have announced a new partnership to develop a Group B Streptococcus vaccine specifically designed to protect mothers and babies in sub-Saharan countries where the disease is most prevalent. No licensed vaccines currently exist to protect against GBS infection. A GBS vaccine designed specifically for low-resource countries could provide a chance for all babies to get a healthy start in life. It could be given to pregnant mothers who would then pass on the protective antibodies to their babies, ensuring protection at birth and during the first critical months of life from GBS infection, which can kill and disable infected babies. As a result of this project, Biovac, which is a public-private partnership based in Cape Town, will be one of only three companies in the world and the only developing-country vaccine manufacturer to develop a novel conjugate vaccine against GBS. Inventprise, a Seattle-area biotech startup with experience in conjugate vaccine development, will provide initial technical support in order to ensure Biovac is well-positioned to manufacture a vaccine that targets sub-Saharan Africa and potentially other low-income regions of the world.