Rheumatic fever vaccine is being developed in Brazil

New research indicates that there may soon be an effective way to prevent rheumatic fever disease, also known as infectious rheumatism – a condition caused by a strep-like bacterium.

The vaccine is in the testing phase and brings optimistic expectations to health professionals and researchers.

Developed by researchers at the Heart Institute (INCOR) in the state of São Paulo, the study took 30 years to reach this stage and is now about to be tested in humans, since the immunizer has shown positive results in animals.

Authorization is still required for this procedure, but the researchers hope to do it later this year, since the vaccine is ready for this next step.

Understand the disease

Rheumatic fever develops in the patient’s body after infection with the bacterium Streptococcus pyogenes , which causes diseases such as pharyngitis , tonsillitis or scarlet fever .

Common in childhood and adolescence, infections cause the body to produce a large amount of antibodies.

Depending on the genetic predisposition (characteristic of the patient that can influence the development of rheumatic fever), the antibodies start to attack some parts of the body.

The main structures affected are the joints and the heart valves, evolving to heart disease, such as: heart failure, arrhythmia, pericarditis and endocarditis (heart disease and disorders).

Read more: Flu vaccine could save heart failure patients

How can the vaccine prevent rheumatic fever?

The vaccine being developed in São Paulo has a high index of antibodies that act by attacking only the bacterium that causes the infection. Thus, the cells of the body remain unharmed.

In all tests carried out on animals, the results were positive and none developed a cardiac lesion, common during rheumatic fever.

But the other tests on humans are still needed, to check if the efficiency is the same.

However, the results are already promising for the fight against the disease.

Rheumatic fever is an autoimmune disease that affects mainly children and young people, and can have complications in adulthood.

With the vaccine, the condition – which can be serious – has new perspectives.