Major breakthrough in the fight against Meningitis B

A vaccine to protect children against one of the most common and deadly forms of meningitis will soon be licensed for use in the UK.

The 4CMenB vaccine, developed by Novartis, has been described as the “biggest leap forward in the fight to eradicate this deadly disease in 30 years” by John Bresnahan, Ryan’s father.

The injection has been recommended for approval by the European Medicines Agency (EMA).

About Meningitis B

An average of 1,870 people contract Meningitis B each year – and one in 10 of them die.

About a quarter of all survivors of Meningitis B are left with life altering after-effects, such as brain damage or limb loss.

Children under the age of five are the most at risk from the bacterial infection, which leads to inflammation of the brain and spinal cord.

Landmark moment

Recommendations from the EMA are normally endorsed by the European Commission within two or three months, and the resulting vaccine will save countless lives.

The vaccine, known as Bexsero, is expected to receive its UK licence early next year, and has been recommended for use in children aged two months and older.

John Bresnahan and his wife Michelle, founders of a LIFE for a CURE describe the breakthrough:

“We started a LIFE for a CURE to celebrate the life of our son Ryan Bresnahan, who died from this deadly disease. The name means what it says – his life in exchange for a cure, so this is the best news we have heard since we started our fight to stop this deadly disease.”

Bexsero – the vaccine

It has taken Swiss pharmaceutical firm Novartis 20 years to develop the vaccine, which has been complicated by the many different strains of the infection.

Andrin Oswald, Head of Vaccines at Novartis, says:

“We are proud of the major advance that our meningococcal group B vaccine represents within the field of vaccine development against what up until now has been a very challenging disease target.”

Studies have shown the jab is likely to be effective against 73% of the different variations of Meningitis B.

A vaccine against the more common Meningitis C has been administered since 1999 and is now widely given to babies in the first year of their life.

It has led to a large fall in the number of cases in people under the age of 20.

What happens next?

The decision on whether to introduce the vaccine to the immunisation schedule will be made by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, who advise the Government on vaccination.

John Bresnahan strongly supports rolling out the vaccine, and finally putting a stop to the devastation this disease causes:

“Now a new fight begins. We need to get the vaccine introduced into the government’s routine immunisation schedule as a priority. Once that is achieved, we’ll fight to find a vaccine to kill the remaining 27% of strains Bexsero isn’t effective against.”
To follow the development of the vaccine, please visit