Following up on research done over a decade ago, the Strep Gene researchers have now found that a particular difference in one of these HLA markers called HLA-DQA1 occurs twice as often in patients who have suffered life-threatening group A streptococcal infection compared to the general population.
To make sure this result was not a chance observation they repeated their analysis in several different ways and found the same thing. Importantly, the HLA-DQA1 marker is known to interact with particular toxins produced by the strep bacteria and so the researchers suggest that those individuals with the HLA-DQA1 difference do not develop immunity in the same way as everybody else which makes them more vulnerable to life-threatening infections. Further research will be needed to test this theory, but it could provide important information about why some individuals develop strep infections and how to prevent through vaccines.
The Strep Gene team have now released their findings to the wider scientific community and will present and get feedback on the results at the European Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases later this year (2019) which will help guide the next steps. The researchers remain extremely grateful to The Lee Spark NF Foundation and especially to the survivors and their families who participated in the study without them whom the study would not have been possible
Please visit the website www.strepgene.org to find out more.