19 Jan 2012

New vaccine developed against meningitis strain

6:50 am on 19 January 2012

A New Zealand scientist says a newly-developed vaccine that protects against all strands of the meningococcol B bacterium is a big step forward, though it may not provide long term protection.

The 4CMenB vaccine has been clinically trialled in Chile.

It was developed by Novartis, which now owns the company that developed a vaccine to target a New Zealand strain of meningoccol disease.

About 300 people have died in New Zealand over the past 20 years from the bacterium that causes meningitis and septiceamia.

A lecturer in vaccinology at the University of Auckland, Helen Petousis-Harris, says it has been shown that the new vaccine gives protection for a short time, and it's not clear when a booster dose would be required.

"But you know if you've got an epidemic of meningoccol disease it has been demonstrated that even if your vaccine doesn't give protection for many years it can still be enough to get an epidemic under control."

A professor of medical and health sciences at Auckland University, Diana Lennon, says the vaccine has not been shown to produce sufficient antibodies in babies to give them long term protection.