City experts to work on vaccine for meningitis
Researchers from the city are set to develop a vaccine that will protect millions of children afflicted with blood and brain infections in sub-Saharan African countries, among many other regions of the world.
The new conjugate vaccine will help fight invasive non-typhoidal Salmonella, a bacterium that is a major cause of blood infections, or septicaemia, and infections of the coverings of the brain (meningitis). About 25 per cent children infected by this bacterium die, say experts.
There is no vaccine available at present to prevent this emerging health problem. It belongs to the group of bacteria that causes problems such as typhoid, acute gastroenteritis, food poisoning and blood infection. Non-typhoidal Salmo-
The vaccine technology to be adopted is based on chemically linking two pieces from bacterial cell
nella is distinct within this group of bacteria — it does not cause typhoid in humans but is capable of infecting the meninges and blood.
Bharat Biotech and University of Maryland Center for Vaccine Development will work on testing the vaccine in early clinical trials in the US. Dr Krishna Ella, chairman, Bharat Biotech, said the research team plans to come out with a conjugated injectable vaccine soon.
The vaccine technology to be adopted by the team is based on chemically linking two pieces from the bacterial cell: sugar that coats the cell surface, and a protein derived from the flagella structure that allows the bacteria to swim. According to the experts involved, the vaccine is designed to stimulate the human body to produce antibodies (protective proteins) in blood to prevent NTS disease.
NTS is highly adapted to the ecological conditions and its exact mode of transmission is unclear. Experts said it is also turning resistant to available medicines, making it an important candidate for early development of vaccine as a preventive tool.
Dr Ella said, “An advantage with this project is the partnership between academia and industry, in translating basic science research into potential commercial-scale vaccines that could save lives.”
The Wellcome Trust is funding the project.