Research reveals a potential new meningococcal b vaccine candidate against meningitis

Research reveals a potential new meningococcal b vaccine candidate against meningitis

19 October 2011

A team of researchers lead by Dr Vladimir Pelicic at Imperial College, London have released the findings of MRF funded research in Vaccine which reveals a potential new meningococcal b (menB) vaccine candidate against meningitis and septicaemia.

An ideal vaccine must be based on parts of the bacteria that are (i) on the surface where the immune system can see them, (ii) present across most or all meningococcal strains so the vaccine will provide the widest possible coverage, and (iii) provoke an immune response.

This latest research examined three ‘minor pilins’, parts of tiny hair-like structures called pili, which the bacteria use to latch onto the back of the human nose and throat. From there they can invade the blood-stream and cause disease. The scientists found that these ‘minor pilins’ are present in a wide range of different meningococcal bacteria, and that our immune systems can recognise them and produce important antibodies that stop the bacteria from functioning.

Dr Pelicic said: “Pili are obvious vaccine candidates because of their position on the outer surface of the bacteria, but investigations of the major pilin components many years ago turned out to be a dead end. Thanks to MRF funding, our research has shown that ‘minor pilins’, those that only make up a minority of these structures, could be novel vaccine candidates against meningococcal meningitis."

Linda Glennie, Head of Research and Medical Information at MRF said: “This research continues to provide evidence for further potential vaccine candidates for a MenB vaccine and highlights MRF’s drive to find the complete solution to prevent meningococcal disease.”

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Sam Williams
Media Relations Manager

Hi, I’m Sam and I’m MRF's PR Manager.

If you want to know more about this story call me on 0333 405 626251, out of office hours on 07875 498047 or email me

samanthaw@meningitis.org