Group A Streptococcal Infections

Group A streptococcal (GAS) infections can range from a mild skin infection or a sore throat to severe, life-threatening conditions. Most people are familiar with strep throat, which along with minor skin infections, is the most common form of the disease.

Why Is the Study of Group A Streptococcal Infections a Priority for NIAID?

Health experts estimate that more than 10 million mild infections (throat and skin) occur every year.

How Is NIAID Addressing This Critical Topic?

NIAID supports research to develop a group A streptococcus vaccine, and several candidate vaccines are in various phases of development. While some scientists are conducting animal model studies to obtain data to pursue clinical trials in humans, other scientists are close to evaluating group A streptococcus vaccine candidates in Phase I clinical trials.

As a result of NIAID-supported research, the first group A streptococcus vaccine clinical trial in 30 years was started. The vaccine was well tolerated by patients and has led to further clinical evaluation of a similar vaccine candidate.

To learn about risk factors for GAS and current prevention and treatment strategies visit the MedlinePlus streptococcal infections site.

Group A Streptococcus Bacteria on Human Neutrophil

Neutrophil scanning electron micrograph of group A streptococcus (streptococcus pyogenes) bacteria on primary human neutrophil.

Credit: 

NIAID
Biology & Genetics

Through research, health experts have learned that there are more than 120 different strains of group A streptococci bacteria, each producing its own unique proteins. Some of these proteins are responsible for specific GAS diseases. With the support of NIAID, scientists have determined the genetic sequence, or DNA code, for five strains of the group A streptococcus bacterium. By studying its genes, scientists can learn which proteins are responsible for virulence—crucial information that will lead to new and improved drugs and vaccines.

Vaccines

NIAID supports research to develop a group A streptococcus vaccine, and several candidate vaccines are in various phases of development. While some scientists are conducting animal model studies to obtain data to pursue clinical trials in humans, other scientists are close to evaluating group A streptococcus vaccine candidates in Phase I clinical trials.

Types of GAS Infections

Group A streptococcal (GAS) infections can range from a mild skin infection or a sore throat to severe, life-threatening conditions. Most people are familiar with strep throat, which along with minor skin infections, is the most common form of the disease. Health experts estimate that more than 10 million mild infections (throat and skin) occur every year.