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Expert Opin Pharmacother. 2004 Apr;5(4):855-63.

Meningococcal conjugate vaccines.

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Department of Medicine, Emory University School of Medicine, Emory University Hospital, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA.


Neisseria meningitidis is a leading cause of bacterial meningitis and sepsis in the US, Europe and in many other parts of the world, including parts of sub-Saharan Africa (known as the African 'meningitis belt'). There are > 500000 cases of meningococcal disease annually with an estimated death toll of 135000 worldwide. Approximately 10 - 15 % of survivors experience significant morbidity in the form of neurological sequelae, including hearing loss, speech disorders, loss of limbs, mental retardation and paralysis. Disease is usually caused by N. meningitidis serogroups A, B, C, Y or W-135. Prevention of meningococcal disease includes isolation, chemoprophylaxis and vaccination with available polysaccharide vaccines. However, the polysaccharide meningococcal vaccines (i.e., A and C; A, C and W-135; or A, C, Y and W-135) initially developed in the 1970s are generally poorly immunogenic in children or require repeated doses and do not produce long-lasting immunity. Conjugate vaccine technology has been very successfully used in childhood vaccines for the prevention of other bacterial meningitis pathogens, including vaccines against Haemophilus influenzae serotype b (Hib) and more recently, the seven- and nine-valent conjugate pneumococcal vaccines. Newly released meningococcal conjugate vaccines against N. meningitidis serogroup C have been highly efficacious in young children and adolescents, with minimal side effects. Conjugate vaccines targeting other important meningococcal serogroups (e.g., N. meningitidis serogroup A, responsible for the large pandemic outbreaks and the majority of disease in sub-Saharan Africa and serogroups Y and W-135) are under development and together with the serogroup C conjugates, have the potential to significantly impact worldwide sporadic and epidemic meningococcal disease. The search for an effective serogroup B meningococcal vaccine remains elusive. This manuscript reviews the conjugate meningococcal vaccines and their potential for meningococcal disease prevention.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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