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Immunity to Neisseria gonorrhoeae

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Front. Immunol. | doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2019.00683

Exploitation of Neisseria meningitidis group B OMV vaccines against N. gonorrhoeae to inform the development and deployment of effective gonorrhea vaccines

  • 1The University of Auckland, New Zealand

Have potential clues to an effective gonorrhea vaccine been lurking in international disease surveillance data for decades? While no clinically effective vaccines against gonorrhea have been developed we present direct and indirect evidence that a vaccine is not only possible, but may already exist. Experience from Cuba, New Zealand, and Canada suggest that vaccines containing Group B Neisseria meningitides outer membrane vesicles developed to control type-specific meningococcal disease may also prevent a significant proportion of gonorrhea. The mechanisms for this phenomenon have not yet been elucidated but we present some strategies for unravelling potential cross protective antigens and effector immune responses by exploiting stored sera from clinical trials and individuals primed with a meningococcal group B outer membrane vesicle vaccine (MeNZB). Elucidating these will contribute to the ongoing development of high efficacy vaccine options for gonorrhea.
While the vaccine used in New Zealand, where the strongest empirical evidence has been gathered, is no longer available, the outer membrane vesicle has been included in the multi component recombinant meningococcal vaccine 4CMenB (Bexsero) which is now licenced and in used in numerous countries. Several lines of evidence suggest it has the potential to affect gonorrhea prevalence. A vaccine to control gonorrhea does not need to be perfect and modelling supports that even a moderately efficacious vaccine could make a significant impact in disease prevalence. How might we use an off the shelf vaccine to reduce the burden of gonorrhea? What are the some of the potential societal barriers in a world where vaccine hesitancy is growing? We summarise the evidence and consider some of the remaining questions.

Keywords: Neisseria gonorrhoeae, Neisseria meningitidis, MeNZB, OMV vaccine, Gonorrhea

Received: 31 Aug 2018; Accepted: 13 Mar 2019.

Edited by:

Michael W. Russell, University at Buffalo, United States

Reviewed by:

Marcia M. Hobbs, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, United States
Margaret Bash, United States Food and Drug Administration, United States  

Copyright: © 2019 Petousis-Harris and Radcliff. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Dr. Helen Petousis-Harris, The University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand, h.petousis-harris@auckland.ac.nz