Technology Licensing Success Stories

Vaccine for common and potentially deadly infection by streptococcus pneumoniae

Acute otitis media, known colloquially as middle ear infection, remains one of the most common infectious diseases worldwide despite widespread vaccination. In fact, in the US it is the most common infection for which antibiotics are prescribed and largest killer of the elderly. Globally, it is the single largest cause of death in children.

To address these threats, researchers at St. Jude developed a vaccine against the infectious agent: streptococcus pneumonia bacteria.  The vaccine generates antibodies that attack both the bacteria’s polysaccharide capsule and the bacteria’s serotypes (protein targets) to protect against pneumonia, acute sinusitis, and otitis media. It consists of a live but genetically modified form of the bacterium that is unable to cause tissue damage or massive inflammation, does not translocate to the blood stream and is rapidly cleared from the body. A significant advantage over current vaccines is its ability to recognize bacteria independent of different serotypes; approved vaccines only cover a limited number of the over 100 serotypes. Those current vaccines also lack efficacy against mucosal disease manifestations such as acute otitis media, acute bacterial sinusitis, and pneumonia.

In February 2020, Blue Water Vaccines Inc., a biopharmaceutical company focused on creating transformative vaccines solving global health challenges, announced they entered into an exclusive worldwide license agreement to further develop, clinically test and commercialize this new vaccine.

Additional information: Blue Water Vaccines licenses patent rights for streptococcus pneumoniae vaccine development from St. Jude Children's Research Hospital (

Related Scientific References

Rosch, J.W. et al., “A live-attenuated pneumococcal vaccine elicits CD4+ T-cell dependent class switching and provides serotype independent protection against acute otitis media”, EMBO online Nov. 4, 2013, DOI: 10.1002/emmm.201202150263 (2013)

"We sought to generate a novel class of live vaccines that are fully attenuated and retain all major antigenic virulence proteins," Rosch said. "A live vaccine candidate based on deletion of the signal recognition pathway component ftsY induced potent, serotype-independent protection against otitis media, sinusitis, pneumonia and invasive pneumococcal disease (in studies, the live vaccine induced a strong serum IgG2a and IgG2b response that correlated with CD4+ T-cell mediated class switching.)"

-Jason Rosch, Ph.D., Department of Infectious Diseases at St. Jude.

"We are excited to develop a vaccine that has the potential to provide a significant benefit to a great number of patients worldwide, St. Jude is a global leader in medical research and a beacon of hope for families all over the world facing serious medical conditions. We are thrilled to add this ground-breaking technology to our development portfolio."

-Joseph Hernandez, Chief Executive Officer of Blue Water Vaccines.

Universal live attenuated pneumonia vaccine (SJ-11-0001)

Jason Rosch, PhD, Department of Infectious Diseases, discusses St. Jude’s universal live attenuated streptococcus pneumonia bacteria vaccine and how it protects against pneumonia, acute sinusitis, and otitis media.