Reducing meningococcal disease risk

Evaluation of strategies to reduce meningococcal disease risk in patients with complement deficiencies

Central Manchester University

Complement deficiency is a condition which affects how well a person’s immune system functions. People with complement deficiency are at 10,000 times greater risk of contracting meningococcal disease than people without the condition. 

They are given daily antibiotics and regular vaccines to protect them from meningococcal disease. We do not know how many of these patients take penicillin regularly, or if penicillin prevents people carrying the meningococcal bacteria.

Currently, most cases of meningococcal disease in the UK are caused by meningococcal group B (Men B) bacteria. A new vaccine has been licensed for use in patients with complement deficiency to protect them from Men B disease. It is known to be effective in healthy people, however, we do not know how effective it will be for people at high risk of developing meningococcal disease.   

What the researchers are doing

Dr Hughes and his team have a number of aims. Firstly, they hope to test the success and acceptability of the MenB vaccine programme by looking at the immune responses and adverse effects following vaccination for people with complement deficiency.  

Secondly, they will examine how long the protective immune response continues after vaccination for other meningococcal strains (A, C, W, and Y). Finally, they will look for the meningococcal bacteria in throat swabs to see if penicillin is effective in stopping people carrying the germ. 

The difference it will make

Dr Hughes’ work will help us understand how to improve protection for people at increased risk of meningococcal disease. It will examine how effective the new Men B vaccine is for patients with complement deficiency, and whether they are likely to experience adverse effects.

The team will also gain a better understanding of whether patients should be re-vaccinated against Men A, C, W, Y within four years and how the meningococcal germ is carried. With this new knowledge, doctors will be able to better advise and care for patients with complement deficiency.

Progress so far

This project started in August 2014. We will keep you updated with news from this exciting research.

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.


Dr Stephen Hughes, Professor Ray Borrow, Professor Peter Hillmen, Professor Nicholas Webb


Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

More information 

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