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Hum Vaccin. 2007 Nov-Dec;3(6):290-4. Epub 2007 May 30.

Strategies for development of universal vaccines against meningococcal serogroup B disease: the most promising options and the challenges evaluating them.

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Department of Bacteriology and Immunology, Norwegian Institute of Public Health, Oslo, Norway.


A vaccine inducing protection against most of the circulating variants of serogroup B meningococcal strains is not yet available. A number of plausible options are currently under investigation. A conjugate vaccine based on a modified capsular polysaccharide might well work, but has safety concerns from molecular mimicry between group B sialic acid and human tissue. Recently, however, the group B capsule has been shown to contain de-N-acetyl sialic acid residues that do not cross react with normal host tissues and can then be the target of bactericidal antibodies. Potentially, this polysaccharide structure could form the basis of a safe and protective group B vaccine. Outer membrane vesicles (OMVs) from Neisseria lactamica avoid the immunodominant and highly strain specific immune response against the PorA protein, and are reported to elicit cross reactive protection in mice against lethality from challenge with meningococcal group B bacteria. However, the serum antibody responses lack bactericidal activity, and the mechanisms of protection are unknown. A number of universal, cross-reactive antigens have been identified through "reverse vaccinology" and successfully tested as recombinant protein vaccines. Promising results have also been demonstrated using OMV vaccines prepared from strains engineered for upregulation of conserved, cross-reactive antigens. This approach takes advantage of experience gained with conventional wild-type OMV vaccines and the large number of new antigens identified through sequencing the genome of N. meningitidis. Initial studies show that the traditional use of detergents to decrease toxicity by extraction of lipopolysaccharides (LPS) should, if possible, be omitted in order to avoid extraction of important lipoproteins. In the absence of detergent extraction, clinical OMV formulations with acceptable toxicity may still be achieved by constructing vaccine production strains with genetically detoxified LPS. Thus, a MenB vaccine might be designed based on non-cross-reactive capsular antigens, OMV vaccines from genetically modified strains, recombinant proteins or a combination of these approaches. Given all of the recent data available and experience gained, the possibility for development of a universal vaccine for prevention of group B meningococcal disease looks promising. For evaluation of vaccine formulations relying on cross-reactive proteins, selection of strains for representation of the global epidemiological situation will be of outmost importance. Defining criteria for establishing and revising such strain collections is currently ongoing and will be a key element in developing and evaluating new protein based vaccines in the time to come.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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