A vaccine that could protect millions of children against the deadliest strain of meningitis has performed well in a preliminary trial.
The meningitis B vaccine was tested on 150 British infants who were immunised at two, four and six months of age. A fourth dose was given when they were 12 months old.
Tests showed that a month after the third treatment, the MenB vaccine from Novartis produced immunity against three meningitis B strains in 85%, 89% and 96% of the children, with the figures rising to 93%, 98% and 100% after the fourth dose.
Although vaccines are available against the meningitis A and C subtypes, none yet exists which can tackle meningitis B, the leading cause of bacterial meningitis throughout the world.
Around 3,000 meningitis infections occur each year in the UK, resulting in 230 deaths. Of these cases, two-thirds are caused by meningitis B.
The scores of different strains of the disease have so far thwarted attempts to produce an effective meningitis B vaccine.
Dr Andrew Pollard, head of the Oxford Vaccine Group at Oxford University, who helped conduct the trial, said: "There is still a long way to go, but a vaccine that gave broad protection against meningitis B would be hugely significant."
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"Yes fantastic news a new vaccine to help stop deaths from meningitis B." - Ann Smith, Glasgow