What is this project about?
The aim of the project is to identify proteins present on the surface of meningococcal group B (MenB) bacteria that in the future, may be able to be used in a vaccine to protect against MenB disease. The team have already selected cells that produce antibodies from patients that have had MenB disease. Each of these cells produces only one type of antibody, and some of these antibodies are known to kill MenB in the laboratory. However, we do not know what proteins these “killing” antibodies bind to on the surface of MenB.
These proteins are important to identify as they are potential new vaccine candidates.
Why is this important?
4CMenB (Bexsero) is a vaccine which is used routinely in the UK to prevent MenB disease. However, despite its use, MenB continues to cause many cases of invasive disease. This is because 4CMenB is currently only routinely offered to infants in the UK, and it does not protect against all MenB strains or prevent them from living in the back of the nose and throat and being transmitted. Therefore, there is a need to identify new proteins that can protect against all MenB strains either by themselves or adding them to other MenB vaccines.
In the short term, the results will mean that future work is focussed on investigating whether new MenB vaccine candidates protect against disease. In the long term, it is hoped that the MenB protein or proteins identified become components of successful new generation MenB vaccines.
This project has been funded by The Jessica Bethell Charitable Foundation, in memory of Jessica, who tragically died from MenB in 2012, aged just 24 years.