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An experimental vaccine that targets dozens of strains of the bacterium that causes pneumonia has the potential to significantly bring down the number of deaths due to the disease, a new study says.
The vaccine provoked an immune response to 72 forms of Streptococcus pneumoniae in laboratory tests on animals, according to the study published in the journal, 'Science Advances'.
"We've made tremendous progress fighting the spread of pneumonia, especially among children. But if we're ever going to rid ourselves of the disease, we need to create smarter and more cost-effective vaccines," said the study's co-lead author Blaine Pfeifer, Associate Professor at University at Buffalo in New York.
In 2004, pneumonia killed more than two million children worldwide, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). By 2015, the number was less than one million.
Better access to antibiotics and improved nutrition account for part of the decline. But scientists say it's mostly due to vaccines introduced in the early 2000s that target up to 23 of the most deadly forms of the bacterium that causes pneumonia -- Streptococcus pneumoniae.
As the new vaccine under development targets additional strains of S. pneumoniae -- including the 23 mentioned above - it could, the researchers beleive, deal another blow to the disease.
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