New recombinant vaccines for the prevention of meningococcal B disease
Muhamed-Kheir Taha, Ala-Eddine Deghmane
Institut Pasteur, Unit of Invasive Bacterial Infections and National Reference Center for Meningococci, Paris, France
Abstract: Meningococcal disease is a life-threatening invasive infection (mainly septicemia and meningitis) that occurs as epidemic or sporadic cases. The causative agent, Neisseria meningitidis or meningococcus, is a capsulated Gram-negative bacterium. Current vaccines are prepared from the capsular polysaccharides (that also determine serogroups) and are available against strains of serogroups A, C, Y, and W-135 that show variable distribution worldwide. Plain polysaccharide vaccines were first used and subsequently conjugate vaccines with enhanced immunogenicity were introduced. The capsular polysaccharide of meningococcal serogroup B is poorly immunogenic due to similarity to the human neural cells adhesion molecule. Tailor-made, strain-specific vaccines have been developed to control localized and clonal outbreaks due to meningococci of serogroup B but no “universal” vaccine is yet available. This unmet medical need was recently overcome using several subcapsular proteins to allow broad range coverage of strains and to reduce the risk of escape variants due to genetic diversity of the meningococcus. Several vaccines are under development that target major or minor surface proteins. One vaccine (Bexsero®; Novartis), under registration, is a multicomponent recombinant vaccine that showed an acceptable safety profile and covers around 80% of the currently circulating serogroup B isolates. However, its reactogenicity in infants seems to be high and the long term persistence of the immune response needs to be determined. Its activity on carriage, and therefore transmission, is under evaluation. Indirect protection is expected through restricting strain circulation and acquisition. This vaccine covers the circulating strains according to the presence of the targeted antigens in the circulating isolates as well as to their levels of expression. The coverage rate should therefore be updated and the surveillance of circulating isolates should include typing schemes for the antigens of the future vaccines. We review the recent available data for these upcoming protein-based vaccines and particularly Bexsero®.
Keywords: Neisseria meningitidis, serogroup B, vaccine, typing, epidemiology
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