Novartis' meningitis B vax passes test

Novartis released promising data from its Phase III trial for 4CMenB, a meningitis B vaccine developed via Novartis' "reverse vaccinology." The study, which involved 3,600 infants from five countries, showed a "robust immune response" to the much anticipated vaccine. Currently, there is no approved meningitis B vaccine on the market.

"Meningitis B can be devastating for affected families and is a major concern for pediatricians who care for children with this serious illness," says Andrew Pollard, Professor of Pediatric Infection and Immunity at the University of Oxford, in a release. "Many cases of meningitis are prevented today by the vaccines we give to our children, but the more complex meningitis B remains as a major threat."

Infants in the study were innoculated at two, four and six months, and again at one year old. The vaccine performed well, including when administered with additional vaccines. More results are expected later this year. The company hopes to apply for European approval at the end of 2010. Past studies have primarily involved infants as they are the most vulnerable to the devastating disease, infecting 1,200 U.K. citizens annually.

Novartis' "reverse vaccinology" decoded meningitis' genetic makeup, making it possible to develop a more potent vaccine.

- see the Novartis release
- read the Bloomberg coverage