Scientists closer to breakthrough in Meningitis B vaccine component

Published: 8-Feb-2012

Studied Neisserial Heparin Binding Antigen to understand its structure

Scientists from the UK’s Health Protection Agency (HPA) are a step closer to ensuring the stability of a component of a vaccine that may eventually be used to protect against Meningitis B.

The research, which is a collaboration between scientists at the HPA, University of Warwick and Novartis and was funded in part by the Meningitis Research Foundation, describes the characteristics of a vaccine antigen.

The scientists looked specifically at the Neisserial Heparin Binding Antigen (NHBA) to understand its structure better, an important element of setting up the quality control testing of a vaccine.

The paper, published in the journal Vaccine, found that the antigen must remain structurally stable for it to be an effective antigen for a vaccine. Ensuring the stability of vaccine antigens forms a crucial part of the regulatory assessment of the 4CMenB vaccine, which is currently awaiting approval from the European Medicines Agency.

Co-lead author of the study Dr Barbara Bolgiano, a principal scientist at the HPA’s National Institute for Biological Standards and Control, said: ‘Our study examined the stability of a crucial component to the development of the Meningitis B vaccine, known as 4CMenB. We concluded that a specific component of the vaccine remained stable and retained its ability to stimulate an immune response. This information will help in the vaccine’s development.

‘This is a crucial part of research which will contribute to discussions about the introduction of vaccine for Men B. Although it is still early days, we are pleased to have made this contribution to the development process.’

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