A team of researchers from the University of Leicester and Meningococcal Reference Unit have found a new way to determine the effectiveness of the group B meningococcal disease (Men B) vaccine Bexsero on multiple strains responsible for causing meningococcal meningitis and septicaemia.
Under the new approach, blood samples are procured from patients with meningococcal disease to evaluate if the vaccine would have been effective to prevent the disease causing strains.
The research was based on one of the four antigen constituents of the vaccine, while further analyses on the remaining three components are yet to be done.
It is estimated that the vaccine can prevent between 73% and 88% of strains that cause meningococcal disease in England and Wales.
Currently, the approach is being evaluated by Public Health England.
University of Leicester Department of Genetics and Genome Biology Dr Chris Bayliss said: “This new research fills a gap in current testing capabilities that determine whether a disease-causing meningococcal strain is expected to be covered by the vaccine.
“We are currently unable to obtain and grow live bacteria from up to half of patients to determine whether the vaccine might have prevented the type of meningococcal disease they have, often because treatment with antibiotics has already killed them.
“There is a need for new tests to identify and measure the amount of antigen by obtaining meningococcal DNA directly from patient samples.”
Developed by GSK, Bexsero was introduced under the UK infant immunisation schedule in September 2015.
It is stated to be highly effective in protecting vaccinated infants against MenB disease.
The vaccine includes factor H binding protein as one of its components. It accelerates the development of anti-bodies in the infants to create immunity against meningococcal bacteria.