-- Robert Preidt
TUESDAY, Feb. 7 (HealthDay News) -- Routinely giving infants a
new vaccine that guards against meningitis appears to be effective,
a new study indicates.
The multi-center clinical trial of almost 1,900 infants found
that administration of routine infant immunizations with a vaccine
for serogroup B
Neisseria meningitidis -- a bacterium that can cause serious
disease such as sepsis and meningitis -- was effective against
meningococcal strains and caused minimal interference with infants'
response to routine vaccinations.
The study of the multi-component serogroup B meningococcal
vaccine (4CMenB) was funded by Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics
and appears in the Feb. 8 issue of the
Journal of the American Medical Association.
"In conclusion, 4CMenB was "immunogenic [able to produce an immune response], generally well tolerated, and showed minimal interference with routine vaccines in the first year of life," wrote Dr. Nicoletta Gossger, of the University of Oxford in England, and colleagues.
Meningitis is an inflammation of the membranes covering the
spinal cord and the brain. According to the U.S. Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention, meningitis can be caused by a virus
or a bacteria. The bacterial form is often more severe and can
result in brain damage, hearing loss and death.
Before the 1990s, Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) was the
leading cause of bacterial meningitis. Today, the Hib vaccine is
part of routine pediatric immunizations.
In the U.S., meningococcal disease is usually caused by groups
A, B, C, Y, and W-135 of the meningococcus bacteria. Currently,
licensed vaccines provide some protection against all groups except
B. There is no licensed vaccine for group B in the U.S, according
to the U.S. National Network for Immunization Information.
If the new vaccine were to be licensed, "this vaccine could
potentially provide improved protection for infants against
meningococcal disease beyond the protection provided by currently
licensed vaccines," the researchers noted.
In an accompanying editorial, experts from the U.S. Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention said 4CMenB has the potential to
reduce serogroup B meningococcal disease substantially. "But it
cannot be compared with the success of conjugate vaccine programs,"
Despite its potential, 4CMenB vaccine may have some limitations,
the editorialists wrote. It may not be as effective as a vaccine
against serogroup C was in the United Kingdom, and it remains to be
seen if booster doses will be required to sustain protection, while
adding serogroup B vaccination will also add additional costs to
the infant vaccine schedule.
"However, the anticipated licensure of this vaccine in Europe and other countries means that for the first time vaccines to prevent all five of the serogroups that cause most meningococcal disease worldwide will be available," the CDC doctors wrote.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more
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