New vaccine shows promise in protecting against common cause of meningitis

Researc hers are an important step closer to finding a vaccine that protects against a wide range of strains of meningococcal B – the most common cause of meningococcal disease in Western Australia.

New research published Online First in The Lancet Infectious Diseases showed the trials of the potential vaccine had found it to be safe and that it stimulated an effective immune response.

The report’s author Associate Professor Peter Richmond heads the Vaccine Trials Group, a collaboration between the Telethon Institute for Child Health

Research and Princess Margaret Hospital.

“The development of a vaccine to protect against multiple strains of meningococcal B is particularly important in Western Australia and in many regions of Europe and North America where this particular type of meningococcal disease is most prevalent,” Dr Richmond said.

“While children in Australia are routinely vaccinated against meningococcal C, there has been no vaccine available to protect against meningococcal B which is the most common cause of the disease in WA and in countries where Australians widely travel.”

Dr Richmond said the trial data showed that the potential vaccine produced protective antibodies against 90% of the invasive meningococcus serogroup B strains tested.

This phase 2 trial enrolled 539 healthy adolescents from 25 sites across Australia, Poland, and Spain to test the safety and immune response of the lipoprotein 2086 vaccine.

The B strains of the bacteria account for more than 90% per cent of meningococcal cases in WA.

“Meningococcal B can cause meningitis and blood poisoning and can progress very quickly with devastating effects,” Dr Richmond said.

“Children between the ages of one month and one year are most at risk from meningococcal with a second peak in adolescents.

“This is the last major cause of meningitis for which we don’t have a vaccine so we are very excited

about the progress towards developing a safe and effective vaccine.”

Dr Richmond said the next stage of development would involve bigger trials in a wider range of age groups.
The research article abstract can be found at:

The Lancet Infectious Diseases, Early Online Publication, 7 May 2012
doi:10.1016/S1473-3099(12)70087-7

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