Whilst the development and licensing of the Bexsero Men B vaccine is an important advance, there are still questions to be resolved as to how good it will be. For example, it is only predicted to be effective against 73 - 88% of UK strains of Men B bacteria. It is therefore important and widely acknowledged that the scientific and medical community continue Men B vaccine research. We all strive for a universal vaccine that will eradicate Men B disease and this project will contribute to that urgently needed goal.
The researchers plan to use a novel approach to find further vaccine candidates that will either help to improve, or be an alternative to the currently available MenB vaccine Bexsero.
Blood will be taken from patients who have had Men B disease and single cells that produce antibodies will be identified and isolated. The genes that make antibodies are cloned so that large amounts of individual antibodies can be produced in the laboratory. Each individual antibody will be tested for its ability to bind and kill Men B cells that are known to cause disease in the UK. The protein molecules on the surface of Men B which are recognised by “killing” antibodies will be found. Such Men B proteins are highly promising vaccine candidates.
The difference it will make
This method has not been used on Men B before and so is likely to find completely novel vaccine candidates that could be used to improve protection against Men B disease.
Progress so far
This is a 28 month project, which started in January 2014.
During the first year, Prof Langford and his team have successfully produced antibodies using blood taken from a patient recovering from meningococcal infection. They have also shown that some of these antibodies bind to the Men B strain isolated from that patient. Over the next six months, the plan is to find out whether these antibodies can kill Men B in the laboratory. The same methods will be used to produce and investigate antibodies from patients who are recovering from pneumococcal meningitis.
Help support this research
This research is only made possible by the generous support of people like YOU. Help us continue by donating, or raising funds for our work. On behalf of everyone who will benefit, now and in the future, thank you.
Prof Paul Langford, Prof Simon Kroll, Dr Simon Nadel, Prof Gavin Screaton and Dr Fadil Bidmos
Imperial College London, St Mary’s Campus
If you would like more information about this project, or our research in general, please contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org