New way to determine protection of Men B vaccine against different strains

Researchers at Leicester and the Meningococcal Reference Unit have developed a new approach to assess the effectiveness of the Men B vaccine, Bexsero®, against different strains that cause meningococcal meningitis and septicaemia.

The new approach allows direct testing of blood samples from patients with meningococcal disease to find out if the strain they are infected with might have been prevented by the vaccine. Currently, it is estimated that the vaccine offers protection against 73-88% of strains responsible for meningococcal disease in England and Wales.

The approach is being assessed by Public Health England for its potential to routinely test all meningococcal disease cases.

Dr Chris Bayliss, from the Department of Genetics and Genome Biology, said: “This new research fills a gap in current testing capabilities that determine whether a disease-causing meningococcal strain is expected to be covered by the vaccine.

“We are currently unable to obtain and grow live bacteria from up to half of patients to determine whether the vaccine might have prevented the type of meningococcal disease they have, often because treatment with antibiotics has already killed them. There is a need for new tests to identify and measure the amount of antigen by obtaining meningococcal DNA directly from patient samples.”

Bexsero® is a vaccine that helps protect against group B meningococcal disease (MenB), developed by Novartis/GSK. It was introduced into the UK infant immunisation schedule in September 2015 and has been shown to be highly effective in preventing MenB disease in vaccinated infants.

 

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