Meningitis B vaccine one step closer

21 July 2011

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Category: Research & medical benefits

invitro–test–sample.jpgA study using mice has led scientists one step closer to developing a vaccine against the most common cause of bacterial meningitis, Meningococcus B.

Meningitis is inflammation of the thin tissue that surrounds the brain and spinal cord, called the meninges. If not treated properly or on time, it can lead to brain damage, amputations or death.

Currently vaccines exist for four out of the five types of bacteria that cause the disease. However, as more than 300 strains of the highly contagious Meningococcus B exist, developing a vaccine against it has been a challenge.

In this sophisticated study, scientists created 54 immunogen variants which they tested on mice to see which elicited the development of antibodies when exposed to diverse strains of the bacterium. The immunogens that triggered the best antibody response underwent further testing using mice to refine and pinpoint the most effective candidate.

Further studies are needed, but if the technology becomes widely available, it could lead to development of vaccines against malaria, HIV and flu, also caused by variable strains. Currently, annual flu vaccines are developed based on projections and predictions. A general flu vaccine would give broad protection against all strains of flu virus.