Meningitis B vaccine may protect infants from MenW strain

Research shows Bexsero may be useful in protecting people from MenB as well as MenW. | File photo

A study recently published in the Emerging Infectious Diseases journal suggests that Bexsero, a routine meningitis B vaccine administered in the U.K., may protect infants from MenW, also called ST-11, a strain that is especially dangerous.

This ST-11 MenW strain is responsible for year-on-year rises in meningococcal disease cases, which include septicaemia and meningitis, in England beginning in 2009. The same strain also correlates with other serious illnesses and increased death rates. More than other strains, MenW has a 13 percent death rate, while other strains have a 5 to 10 percent death rate. Between 2014 and 2015, the strain has increased twice over.

In light of this increase and concern, the U.K. government began a program last year requiring teenagers between the ages of 13 and 18 to receive at least one meningitis vaccine. 

The latest research shows that Bexsero may be useful in protecting people from MenB as well as MenW. This is because the bacteria have two protein versions that are similar to the protein versions found in Bexsero.

“We are delighted that our Genome Library has been instrumental in establishing that Bexsero could offer additional protection against MenW ST-11 for infants,” Linda Glennie, Head of Research and Medical Information at the Meningitis Research Foundation, said.  "Although MenACWY vaccination of adolescents (the age group most likely to carry meningococcal bacteria) should help protect the whole population from this particularly harmful strain by reducing transmission, it will take some time to establish this. It’s hoped that Bexsero will offer additional protection against MenW ST-11 for babies as well as preventing MenB, so the results of this recent laboratory study are encouraging. We look forward to seeing the real life impact of Bexsero vaccination on MenW disease.”

Organizations in this story

Meningitis Research Foundation Bristol, South Gloucestershire - BS35 2BS

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