India to develop meningitis vax

Contract seen by some as a sign of developing countries move into research

Robert Walgate(walgate@scienceanalsyed.com)
Jun 17, 2004

The Serum Institute of India (SII) this week signed an agreement with the international Meningitis Vaccine Project (MVP) to develop a new conjugate meningitis A vaccine at a cost of 40 cents per dose for the African meningitis belt, which stretches from Ethiopia to Senegal.

Existing polysaccharide vaccines cannot be used in children younger than 2 and do not produce long-lasting protection. The MVP, run by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the international charity PATH, hopes that the new conjugate vaccine will overcome these problems.

"We won't have to vaccinate every 3 to 5 years, and we'll create herd immunity—and that's a major thing," said William Perea, WHO's coordinator of responses to disease outbreaks.

To create the vaccine, SII—which already claims to supply 75% of the measles vaccine needed worldwide by the United Nations Children's Fund—has applied a new US technology to conjugate a tetanus toxoid with a...

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