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Improved Meningitis Vaccine for Africa Expected to End Deadly Scourge

-year-oldsthe population that will be mostly targeted by mass vaccination campaigns. Testing will take place in Mali, The Gambia, and at least one other African country. An additional clinical study is planned for this summer in India, where the vaccine will be licensed.

A total of 600 toddlers participated in the Phase II study. They were enrolled at two clinical sites in Africa: Center for Vaccine Development (CVD)-Mali and the Medical Research Council (MRC) Laboratories in The Gambia.

Dr. Brown Okoko, principal investigator at the MRC site in Basse, said, The clinical teams at MRC and CVD-Mali identify with the vision, mission, and mandate of the Meningitis Vaccine Project. We are all highly motivated and very proud to be able to contribute to the development of a vaccine that is critically needed in Africa.

Some of the families who participated in the study have lost several members of their family to meningococcal meningitis. Those who have not been directly affected know the terrible impact that the disease has on the community. There is a lot of support for the clinical study and the new vaccine in the Bamako community, said Dr. Samba Sow, principal investigator at CVD-Mali.

Meningitis is an infection of the meninges, the thin lining that surrounds the brain and spinal cord. It is one of the world's most dreaded infectious diseases. Even with antibiotic treatment, at least 10 percent of patients die, with up to 20 percent left with permanent problems, such as mental retardation, deafness, epilepsy, or necrosis leading to limb amputation.

The most prominent groups of meningococci are A, B, C, Y, and W135. While groups A, B, and C are responsible for the majority of cases worldwide, group A causes deadly, explosive epidemics every 8 to 10 years predominantly in what is known as the African meningitis belt, an area that stretches from Senegal and The Gambia in the West to Ethiopia in the East.
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