While there are routine vaccinations against meningococcal meningitis C, there is currently no shot to protect against meningitis B, a serious infection that can lead to brain damage and can result in blood poisoning so severe that arms and legs have to be amputated. Teams of researchers around the world are working on meningitis vaccines, and in the latest research a team from Australia has triggered an immune response in a Phase II trial of Pfizer's ($PFE) vaccine in teenagers.
The vaccine, known as MnB rLP2086 or PF-05212366, is in Phase II development and is designed to protect against meningitis B caused by 8 strains of invasive meningococcus serogroup B strains. It targets lipoprotein 2086, which is on the surface of the bacteria. In the study, the vaccine had few side effects and triggered a response against 90 percent of the strains tested in the vaccinated teenagers.
"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," Associate Professor Peter Richmond, from the University of Western Australia, said. "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."
The study was published in the Lancet Infectious Diseases. The groups most at risk of contracting meningitis B are children between one month and one year and teenagers, and Pfizer is targeting adolescents in the research for this vaccine. The next step will be to test the vaccine in larger groups of different ages. According to the U.K.'s Daily Mail, the vaccine could be available in 5 years--watch this space to see if that wish comes true.
Editor's Note: This story has been updated to reflect Pfizer's research focus on adolescents for this vaccine