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Hum Vaccin. 2011 Feb;7(2):170-82. Epub 2011 Feb 1.

Meningococcal glycoconjugate vaccines.

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Department of Health Sciences, Genoa University, Genoa, Italy.


Neisseria meningitidis is a major cause of invasive bacterial infections worldwide. For this reason, efforts to control the disease have been directed at optimizing meningococcal vaccines and implementing appropriate vaccination policies. In the past, plain polysaccharide vaccines containing purified capsular polysaccharides A, C, Y and W135 were developed, but failed to protect infants, who are at greatest risk. Experience with the conjugate Haemophilus vaccine suggested that this approach might well empower meningococcal vaccines. Thus, a very efficacious vaccine against serogroup C Neisseria meningitis was optimized and has been widely used in developed nations since 1999. On the basis of epidemiological changes in the circulation of pathogenic serogroups in the United States, a quadrivalent conjugate vaccine against A, C, Y and W135 serogroups (Menactra™) has been developed and was approved by the U.S. FDA (Food and Drug Administration) in 2005. Recently, another tetravalent conjugate meningococcal vaccine (Menveo™) has been licensed and made available in the United States of America and in the European Union. Finally, in response to large epidemics caused by serogroup A meningococcus in Africa, a new, safe, immunogenic and affordable vaccine has been developed. This review highlights the evolution of conjugate meningococcal vaccines in general and discusses how this kind of vaccine can contribute to preventing meningococcal disease.

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