New meningitis vax may be ready in two years

Novartis Vaccines is reporting progress with a new meningitis B vaccine that could be on the market in two years. The company says the vaccine should be up for a license in Europe next year.

Researchers for Novartis and the Oxford Vaccines group say they've collected positive data on the vaccine in two mid-stage trials that targeted three strains of meningitis. Some 50 babies were given the jab at two, four and six-month intervals with a 12-month booster shot. And a separate group of 30 infants received the vaccine at six, eight and twelve months. A good immune response was seen in 93 percent to 100 percent of the babies.

To develop the vaccine, scientists at Novartis Vaccines decoded the bacteria that causes meningitis B. Dr. Rino Rappuoli, global head of vaccine research and development at Novartis, says this is probably the first time that researchers relied on sequencing to develop a vaccine.

"An effective vaccine against Men B would be a huge step forward," said the UK's Health Protection Agency. "However, we must not forget that more work needs to be done to assess the potential benefit of such a vaccine in the UK and its compatibility with the existing vaccines in the childhood immunization program."

- read the report from the Telegraph