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Nat Rev Microbiol. 2014 Aug;12(8):585-91. doi: 10.1038/nrmicro3308. Epub 2014 Jul 7.

Models matter: the search for an effective Staphylococcus aureus vaccine.

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Department of Microbiology, Carver College of Medicine, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa 52242, USA.


Staphylococcus aureus is a highly successful bacterial pathogen owing to its abundance of cell surface and secreted virulence factors. It is estimated that 30% of the population is colonized with S. aureus, usually on mucosal surfaces, and methicillin-resistant S. aureus is a major public health concern. There have been multiple attempts to develop an S. aureus vaccine using one or more cell surface virulence factors as antigens; all of these vaccine trials have failed. In this Opinion article, we suggest that an over-reliance on rodent models and a focus on targeting cell surface components have been major contributing factors to this failure.

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