MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Helen Petousis-Harris. BSc, PhD
Senior Lecturer, Dept General Practice and Primary Health Care
Academic Head, Immunisation Research and Vaccinology
Immunisation Advisory Centre
School of Population Health, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences
University of Auckland
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Response: Early thinking came from two quarters. One, the observation that the NZ OMV vaccine appeared broadly protective – beyond the clone it was based on and two, the observation of graphs depicting annual number of cases from both Cuba and NZ. There is nothing to suggest other types of meningococcal vaccine have had any effect on gonorrhoea so we are interested in the OMV vaccines. This led to the hypothesis that as these two Neisseria species are related the meningococcal OMV in the form of a vaccine may offer some kind of cross protection.
To explore this possibility we conducted a case-control study that compared the vaccination status of cases (gonorrhoea) and controls (Clamydia). We found that the cases with gonorrhoea were less likely to be vaccinated than the controls and after we controlled for confounders – ethnicity, SE deprivation, age we found a vaccine effectiveness of 31%.
MedicalResearch.com: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?
Response: Over a century of efforts to develop a gonorrhoea vaccine with any clinical benefit have failed. We have demonstrated a proof of concept that a vaccine against a related organism can prevent gonorrhoea in the real world. This provides clues that could guide future vaccine development but also suggests that we may have vaccines already available that could help.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?
Response: We need to elucidate the mechanisms behind this protective effect so both laboratory and immunological studies will be helpful. We also need to see if the currently available vaccines that include meningococcal B OMVs have a similar effect.
MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?
Response: Modelling indicates even moderate protection could have a significant impact on gonorrhoea. Given the emergence of drug resistance this may be our only avenue.
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