New Zealand researchers make meningococcal B vaccine breakthrough

Research drawing on New Zealand's meningococcal B vaccine campaign has been praised as a potential breakthrough in the fight against the deadly disease.

The trials of a Chilean-developed vaccine that offers protection against the B-group of meningococcal strains have shown early success. After two or three doses, nearly all of the 1,300 teenage participants in the trial were still immune, Stuff New Zealand reports.

A vaccine was developed to combat an epidemic of meningococcal B in New Zealand in the 1990s and early 2000s that infected more than 4,000 and killed 185 people. Because that vaccine only protected against the circulating strain, it could not be used as a universal vaccine. The Chilean vaccine was found to offer protection against multiple B strains, including the New Zealand vaccine antibody.

"[Meningococcal B] is now the leading cause of meningococcal disease, especially in infants and young children in many countries," David Stephens, a professor from Atlanta's Emory University, said, according to Stuff New Zealand. "No vaccines are in routine use for [its] prevention. The 4CMenB vaccine could be a key to the future prevention of serogroup B meningococcal disease."

While the vaccine also had a good safety profile, there is still additional research that must be done, including examining whether or not the vaccine offers long-term protection.