Neisseria meningitides or meningococcus.

Generally, the proteins on the surface of a bacterium known as antigens instigate the immune system to produce immunoglobulin proteins called antibodies. The antibodies have bactericidal activity that is, they can kill the bacteria. Such antigens generally constitute the vaccine against the particular bacterium. This paper describes how five antigens of serogroup B meningococcus were discovered by reverse vaccinology, which is a genomics-based technique that identifies, with the help of computer programs, slices of the bacterial genome that potentially code for the microbe’s surface proteins having antigenic activity. The predicted antigenic activities of the proteins are verified in mice after cloning and expression in E.coli, and using the fusion products obtained to immunize mice after purification. The five antigens identified were produced in a form that was suitable for large-scale production and made into vaccine form for human use by adding chemical compounds (adjuvants) that improve the immune response to vaccine antigens. Results showed that when the inorganic compound, aluminium hydroxide was used as the adjuvant, the vaccine elicited antibodies that could kill 78% of the 85 meningococcal strains tested. Strain coverage improved to 90% by using either MF59, a detergent-stabilized oil-in-water emulsion or CpG oligonucleotides activate cells of the immune system as adjuvants. The vaccine, therefore, has significant potential to conquer one of the most devastating diseases in children.

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