Streptococcus pneumoniae is the leading cause of morbidity and mortality due to community acquired pneumonia, bacterial meningitis and bacteraemia worldwide. Pneumococcal conjugate vaccines protect against invasive disease, but are expensive to manufacture, limited in serotype coverage, associated with serotype replacement and demonstrate reduced effectiveness against mucosal colonisation. As asymptomatic colonisation of the human nasopharynx is a prerequisite for pneumococcal disease, this is proposed as a marker for novel vaccine efficacy. Our team established a safe and reproducible pneumococcal controlled human infection model at Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM). This has been used to test vaccine induced protection against nasopharyngeal carriage for ten years in over 1000 participants.
We will transfer established standardised operating procedures from LSTM to Malawi and test in up to 36 healthy participants. Primary endpoint: detection of the inoculated pneumococci by classical culture from nasal wash recovered from the participants after pneumococcal challenge. Secondary endpoints: confirmation of robust clinical and laboratory methods for sample capture and processing. Tertiary endpoints: participant acceptability of study and methods. We will test three doses of pneumococcal inoculation (20,000, 80,000 and 160,000 colony forming units [CFUs] per naris) using a parsimonious study design intended to reduce unnecessary exposure to participants. We hypothesise that 80,000 CFUs will induce nasal colonisation in approximately half of participants per established LSTM practice.
The aims of the feasibility study are: 1) Establish Streptococcus pneumoniae experimental human pneumococcal carriage in Malawi; 2) Confirm optimal nasopharyngeal pneumococcal challenge dose; 3) Confirm safety and measure potential symptoms; 4) Confirm sampling protocols and laboratory assays; 5) Assess feasibility and acceptability of consent and study procedures. Confirmation of pneumococcal controlled human infection model feasibility in Malawi will enable us to target pneumococcal vaccine candidates for an at-risk population who stand the most to gain from new and improved vaccine strategies.