Meningitis vaccine could help combat sex disease

Scientists believe they have discovered a vaccine that can protect against gonorrhoea for the first time.

The medical breakthrough comes at a time of increased concern over the prevalence of gonorrhoea, which has previously proven to be resistant to medicine. "It is far from ideal, but it is a leap in the right direction", she said. The goal of this 10-year partnership is to develop and introduce a conjugate meningococcal vaccine as a tool for eliminating epidemic meningitis as public health problem in sub-Saharan Africa.

They found people who were vaccinated were 31 percent less likely to be infected with gonorrhea than those who hadn't received the meningococcal B vaccine.

Petousis-Harris' group cautioned that the study population might differ from the general population in several respects. Among more than 14,700 cases and controls for analyses, there were 1,241 incidences of gonorrhea, 12,487 incidences of chlamydia, and 1,002 incidences of coinfection.

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At the moment, the specific mechanism behind this immune response is unknown, but our findings provide experimental evidence and proof of principle that an OMV meningococcal group B vaccine could offer moderate cross protection against gonorrhoea.

"After decades of research, only four gonococcal vaccine candidates have progressed to clinical trials, and none of these vaccines provided any protection against gonorrhea", Kate Seib from the Institute for Glycomics at Griffith University in Australia, who was not involved in the study, wrote in a commentary for The Lancet. They then adjusted the results for ethnicity, deprivation levels, geographical area and sex.

Doctors are particularly concerned about the emergence of antibiotic-resistant strains of the bacteria.

She said: "There are high hopes that now there's going to be some cross-protection". "Gonorrhea rates have been going down in the vaccine group whereas in the non-vaccine group it's following the rest of the province".

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For the study, Petousis-Harris and colleagues reviewed information on about 1 million people who received the MeNZB vaccine in a mass immunization program.

The researchers found that people who had been vaccinated with the MeNZB vaccine were less likely to have gonorrhea than those who weren't (41 percent versus 51 percent).

When people with coinfection were included in the gonorrhoea group, the effectiveness of the vaccine reduced to 23% (95% CI 15 to 30). But even a few years of protection could help significantly reduce the spread of gonorrhea, experts argue.

Just last week, the World Health Organization said there was an urgent need for new drugs to prevent and treat gonorrhoea, often called "the clap", which is spread by vaginal, oral and anal sex. Research now needs to focus on whether the association still exists with the new jab.

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With gonorrhea, however, getting the infection doesn't confer immunity to getting it again. "I wouldn't advise widespread use for the objective of gonorrhea prevention". WHO is now strengthening laboratory and epidemiological surveillance systems in the countries of the African meningitis belt to detect and characterize the serogroups responsible for epidemics to guide its response effectively; assure supplies of effective drugs and ability of health care systems to deliver these to the affected populations; protect the population at risk through mass immunization, if the vaccine is available. That makes developing a vaccine problematic, Handsfield said.


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