World first as scientists develop vaccine that reduces chance of catching gonorrhea

Meningitis B vaccine

Meningitis B vaccine

This is the first time a vaccine has protected against the STD and it could open up a new pathway for vaccine development.

In a case control study involving more than 14,000 people we were able to determine that exposure to the MeNZB™ vaccine during the New Zealand mass vaccination campaign reduced the likelihood of contracting gonorrhoea.

The World Health Organization warned last week that some totally drug-resistance superbug strains of the disease already pose a major threat.

For now, the most effective way to prevent gonorrhoea is to always use a condom during sex, including oral and anal sex.

That's a big deal because worldwide each year, an estimated 78 million people contract gonorrhea, a sexually transmitted disease that can cause pelvic inflammation, infertility and throat infections.

According to BBC, the vaccine, originally developed to stop an outbreak of meningitis B, was given to about a million adolescents in New Zealand between 2004 and 2006.

A meningococcal group B vaccine has been found to offer protection against gonorrhea, report researchers. Because the protein sequences of the bacteria that cause meningitis B and gonorrhoea are 80 to 90 per cent identical, immune reactions to one might affect the other.

Accounting for other factors such as gender and ethnicity, the team concluded that receiving the vaccine decreased gonorrhea incidence by around 31 percent.

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

Gonorrhea's bacterial culprit, Neisseria gonorrhoeae, has developed resistance to many antibiotics, making treatment much more hard. This is the first time a vaccine has shown any protection against gonorrhoea.

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The University of Auckland team stumbled upon the injection, which as a side effect seems to be able to cut gonorrhoea cases by up to a third, even though it was not initially administered to treat the STI.

This case-control study looked at people with a gonorrhoea diagnosis and whether or not they'd had a meningitis vaccination in the past to see if there was an association.

In the United States, teens and preteens, as well as some children and adults, are advised to get one of two meningococcal vaccines to protect against meningitis.

A vaccine against meningitis has an unexpected side effect: It appears to target gonorrhea, too.

The disease spreads easily because many carriers are unaware of their infection and unwittingly pass it on to new sexual partners.

Dr. Jean Longtin, head of the province's public health laboratory, said he and some colleagues made a decision to look at whether the vaccination campaign was having an impact on gonorrhea rates in that area after reading about an early observation from Norway.

The researchers found 41% of the participants diagnosed with gonorrhoea only had been vaccinated against meningitis B, compared with 51% of the chlamydia-only group. "Gonorrhea rates have been going down in the vaccine group whereas in the non-vaccine group it's following the rest of the province".

"We are still a long way before we develop a vaccine for gonorrhoea, but we have now some evidence that it is possible".

However, the vaccine in question - known as MeNZB - is no longer available. 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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