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Oxford to produce novel Meningitis-B vaccine

The University will produce a new meningitis-B (Men-B) vaccine in partnership with the Serum Institute of India (SIIPL), the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer, after reaching a landmark Licence of Technology Agreement.

The Oxford-SIIPL partnership will deliver lifesaving protection against Men-B by producing a first-of-its-kind quadrivalent vaccine.

Meningitis is an infection of the meninges, the tissues around the brain and spinal cord. The most common one is known as type B, or referred to as Men-B. It most commonly affects children under one, causing symptoms like fever and vomiting.  

The current Men-B vaccine is administered in three doses to children until one-year-old to protect them against infections. Before the introduction of vaccines, 10% of those infections were fatal and up to a quarter of the infected population had serious side effects. 

The new vaccine, in its fifth year of joint development by SIIPL and a team led by Christoph Tang, Professor of Cellular Pathology at the Sir William Dunn School of Pathology, is expected to show improved safety, efficacy and coverage.

It will be a chimeric vaccine that utilizes four chimeric proteins. Chimeric vaccines are notable for their protection against multiple pathogens, while conventional vaccines only protect against a single pathogenic strain. 

“Oxford’s commitment and investment to develop efficacious, deployable vaccines will protect millions of lives and academic licensing and successful commercial partnerships that help solve global health challenges,” said Simon Warner, Head of Licensing & Ventures – Life Sciences at Oxford University Innovation.

SIIPL previously developed the MenFive, the first conjugate vaccine to protect against the five predominant causes of meningitis in Africa. In July 2023, the MenFive received pre-qualification from the World Health Organisation. 

Adar Poonawalla, CEO of SIIPL, expressed hopes about the upcoming Men-B vaccine under the licensing agreement with the University.

“This partnership represents a monumental leap forward in our fight against meningitis, ensuring life-saving protection reaches those who need it most,” Poonawalla said.

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