Meningitis B vaccines may fight the rise of super-gonorrhoea

For the first time vaccine shows protection against gonorrhea
Meningitis B vaccines may fight the rise of super-gonorrhoea

12 July, 2017

But the antigens in the vaccine thought to provide the immune response to gonorrhea are included in the more recently developed 4CMenB vaccine, which is available in many countries, Petousis-Harris said.

Evidence from a mass vaccination campaign for an outbreak of bacterial meningitis in New Zealand had unexpected results: reduced rates of the sexually transmitted disease gonorrhea, a study published Monday in the journal The Lancet finds.

Gonorrhoea, which affects around 78 million people worldwide, is increasingly becoming resistant to antibiotics - to the extent that some gonorrhoea strains can not be treated with any of the available drugs on the market.

It was the first time that a vaccine had shown any protection against gonorrhoea, which is also known as "the clap". The current result "provides a very important breakthrough in the development of gonorrhea vaccines", she says.

Despite the two diseases being very different in terms of symptoms and mode of transmission, there is an 80-90% genetic match between the Neisseria gonorrhoeae and Neisseria meningitidis bacteria, providing a biologically plausible mechanism for cross-protection. After adjusting for factors such as ethnicity, geographical area, and gender, the estimated effectiveness of the MeNZB vaccine against gonorrhea among adolescents and adults aged 15-30 years was 31%.

"Gonorrhoea is a very smart bug", said Teodora Wi, a human reproduction specialist at the Geneva-based United Nations health agency.

This is coming after the World Health Organisation in a recent publication said that the infection was fast becoming a challenge as antibiotics seemed to have minimal effect in treating the infection.

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"This new research could be game-changing", said Linda Glennie, an expert at the Meningitis Research Foundation who was not directly involved in the study. One of the observations was that gonorrhoea rates appeared to decline immediately following the use of both the MeNZB vaccine and similar vaccines in Cuba, and to a lesser extent in Norway.

They did a retrospective study of over 14,000 individuals who had received MeNZB when younger.

The importance of preventing people developing a gonorrhoea infection is of mounting importance as the infection is getting much harder to treat. The research looked at data captured between 2004 and 2016, when drug-resistant gonorrhoea was less of a concern.

The researchers point out in their study that you might not be able to generalise their findings to everyone in New Zealand, since some folks with gonorrhoea don't go to sexual health clinics.

Overall, the researchers found that 41 percent of those vaccinated became infected with gonorrhea, versus 51 percent of those who did not receive the vaccine. Chlamydia is the most common sexually transmitted disease reported in Dallas. "The next step for GSK is to further explore and understand the potential of Bexsero to help protect against (gonorrhea)".

But we still have is an association demonstrating that a gonorrhoea vaccine might be possible, wrote Seib. The need to rationalize use of available global stocks of vaccine and to adapt epidemic response strategies to epidemiological profiles are challenges for the immediate future. However, for many people, the infection is asymptomatic and so they can pass on the infection as they have no idea they have it.

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