OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – A new vaccine to protect against pneumonia, developed right here in Oklahoma, is in the process of getting approved.
“I think it’s only the second product that has ever gone into clinical trials from the university here,” said Rodney Tweten, Ph.D., a George Lynn Cross Professor of Research in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology in the OU College of Medicine. He’s the researcher behind the vaccine.
Tweten’s vaccine fights streptococcus pneumoniae, which causes pneumonia. It’s currently in a Phase I Clinical Trial.
“Which is basically a safety trial to make sure it doesn’t cause any adverse effects and also looking at how good of an immune response it triggers in humans,” said Tweten.
The infection can be deadly, especially among the elderly, immunocompromised, and young children.
“It kills about 1.2 million people a year globally,” said Tweten. “There are about 300,000 kids that die every year of this day in and day out, year in and year out.”
Tweten said current vaccines only protect against 23 variants of strep pneumonia. However, his vaccine detects and fights off almost three times that amount.
“So, if you’re vaccinated with this, you’re not going to get infected by another what we call a serotype because it should cover them all or most of them,” said Tweten.
He also says it will be cheaper than other vaccines.
If all goes well, the vaccine will head to the next stage of testing once the current one is finished. The data from the Phase I trial will be released in December, according to Tweten.