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Toxic shock syndrome: vaccine against so-called tampon disease successfully tested


World's first vaccine against toxic shock syndrome developed
If certain pathological bacteria spread in our body, this can lead to life-threatening toxic shock syndrome (TSS). The TSS became known primarily for its increased occurrence among tampon users, who neglected to change hygiene products regularly. But other factors can also cause the syndrome to occur. Science has now developed a vaccine against the TSS and successfully tested its use

The researchers at the University Clinic for Clinical Pharmacology at the Medical University of Vienna developed the "world's first, safe and effective vaccine for this disease" in cooperation with the Biomedical Research GmbH in Vienna, according to the MedUni Vienna. The results of a corresponding phase I study were published in the specialist magazine "The Lancet Infectious Diseases".

Blood poisoning from tampons
Bacterial toxins, which are mostly released by bacteria of the genus Staphylococcus, can cause severe circulatory and organ failure in the form of the TSS. "This syndrome was first described in the 1980s," reports the MedUni Vienna. At that time, general symptoms of sepsis or blood poisoning had appeared in young girls who had used so-called "super tampons" for monthly hygiene. As a result, the disease became known as “tampon disease” and regulations were introduced to regulate the absorption capacity of tampons. To date, however, there have been repeated cases in which patients die from toxic shock syndrome.

Staphylococci mostly trigger the TSS
For most people, staphylococci are not a particular threat. They colonize practically everyone, especially on the skin and on the mucous membranes, explains the MedUni Vienna. The head of the Biomedical Research GmbH and former university professor at the Institute for Immunology of the Medical Faculty of the University of Vienna, Martha Eibl, that the bacteria can lead to serious diseases such as the toxic shock syndrome in people whose immune system is already affected. This affects dialysis patients, chronically ill people, people with liver diseases and people who have had heart surgery, among other things. In principle, however, around 50 percent of cases are "still associated with the menstruation of young women," emphasizes Bernd Jilma from the Vienna University Clinic for Clinical pharmacology.

Preventive vaccination for risk groups possible in the future?
The researchers obtained the new vaccine from a "detoxified toxin" of the staphylococci and have now tested it in a phase I clinical trial as safe and effective in 46 young women and men, according to the MedUni Vienna. The vaccine is injected into the muscles of the upper arm and its effect is similar to that of a tetanus vaccination, explains Bernd Jilma. The researchers expect immunization for a period of five years and longer. Vaccinated people develop antibodies that become active when the germs become threatening, the researchers report. A blood test can be used to determine whether someone has too little antibody against the bacteria. In this way, certain risk groups could be identified in which a preventive vaccination makes sense.

Phase II study in preparation
According to Martha Eibl, the researchers are "well on the way to having a vaccine that will prevent this serious disease soon." However, it will take years before clinical use, the researcher says. However, the scientists are already preparing a phase II study with a larger group of participants to check the first promising results. "We are still looking for more participants," emphasizes Bernd Jilma. (fp)

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Video: Toxic Shock Syndrome: Way Beyond Tampons (January 2022).