'Super-gonorrhoea' vaccine developed after global outbreak of 'untreatable' infection

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Scientists have for the first time developed a vaccine shown to protect against gonorrhoea amid fears drug-resistant forms of the sexually transmitted disease are spreading around the world.

The medical breakthrough comes after medical experts warned of an untreatable “super-gonorrhoea” strain sweeping the globe.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) said the vaccine could be vital in stopping the spread of the infection.

A study of New Zealanders aged 15 to 30 found gonorrhoea cases had fallen by 31% in those vaccinated with MeNZB – something originally developed to treat against meningitis.

The report, published in the Lancet journal, stated: “Exposure to MeNZB was associated with reduced rates of gonorrhoea diagnosis, the first time a vaccine has shown any protection against gonorrhoea.

“These results provide a proof of principle that can inform prospective vaccine development not only for gonorrhoea but also for meningococcal vaccines.”

About 78 million people catch the infection every year, with almost 35,000 cases of gonorrhoea reported in England in 2014.

It is the second most common bacterial sexually transmitted infection in the UK after chlamydia, with the majority of cases affecting people under the age of 25.

On Friday, Dr Teodora Wi, from WHO, said there had even been three cases – in Japan, France and Spain – where the infection was completely untreatable.

Infected patients may experience discharge or pain while urinating, but around 10% of men and almost half of women do not suffer any symptoms. It can also lead to infertility, especially in women.

It can also increase the risk of getting HIV.

Concerns have been growing over “untreatable” strains of gonorrhoea, and in 2012, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control warned that drug-resistant forms of the STI were spreading across Europe.


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