The staphylococcus species are well-adapted parasites. In humans, they colonize on the skin and in the nose. These organisms are involved in common skin disorders including eczema, psoriasis, acne, boils and infections of cuts and burns. They can invade and cause more serious infections of the skin, mammary glands, respiratory tree, blood, joints and bones. Their toxins can cause food poisoning and toxic shock syndrome. Those staphylococci that synthesize coagulase, including staphylococcus aureus, are more invasive. By contrast coagulase negative species are particularly good at colonizing implanted materials such as long intravenous lines, heart valves and orthopedic prostheses.
The theory behind the development of staphylococcal vaccines is to build a passive protective immunity against staphylococcus organisms. With the increasing number of occurrences of hospital infections related to the staphylococcus species and an increasing number of resistant antibiotics in fighting staphylococcal organisms, interest in development of a vaccine has increased in the scientific community.
The United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has estimated that approximately two million people in the United States carry methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in their nasal passages. MRSA has emerged as a growing problem, causing difficult-to-treat infections not only in hospitals but in the general community. Staphylococcal vaccines are being developed to build a passive protective immunity against organisms.
Currently, there are two staphylococcal vaccines in phase III clinical trials by the FDA: Veronate® and Aurexis®. Two other staphylococcal vaccines, StaphVAX™ and Altrastaph® were removed from phase III confirmatory trials when the trials failed to show that these vaccines could prevent staphylococcus aureus in kidney disease patients on hemodialysis.