Novartis' meningitis B vaccine receives recommendation in Europe

A newly developed meningitis vaccine produced by Novartis was recently recommended for licensure by the European Medicines Agency's Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use.

The newly-approved vaccine 4CMenB will be known by its trade name of Bexsero and protects against group B meningococcus, the leading cause of bacterial meningitis, according to the U.K. National Health Service.

Meningitis is an inflammation of the membranes around the spinal cord and brain. It can be caused by a variety of factors, including bacteria, viruses and fungi. One out of four meningitis victims are left with major after-effects, such as brain damage and limb loss.

The United Kingdom has one of the highest incidence rates of meningitis B in the world. On average, the disease affects approximately 2,000 people every year, many of them children.

The charity Meningitis U.K. is calling the vaccine, "the biggest leap forward in the field in three decades," according to the Telegraph.

Meningitis U.K. is pushing for the vaccine to be included in the U.K.'s national immunization schedule so it can automatically be given to children ages two years or older. The next step, however, is for the vaccine to receive a marketing license, which is expected to happen in the next year.

"This is a landmark moment in the fight against meningitis - I have waited three decades to hear this," Meningitis U.K's founder Steve Dayman said, the Telegraph reports. "It is vital that the vaccine is introduced in the UK immunization schedule as soon as possible. It will save countless lives and prevent many people enduring the suffering caused by this devastating disease.