Background: Meningococcal serogroup B disease disproportionately affects infants. We assessed lot-to-lot consistency, safety and immunogenicity, and the effect of concomitant vaccination on responses to routine vaccines of an investigational multicomponent vaccine (4CMenB) in this population.
Methods: We did primary and booster phase 3 studies between March 31, 2008, and Aug 16, 2010, in 70 sites in Europe. We used two series of sponsor-supplied, computer-generated randomisation envelopes to allocate healthy 2 month-old infants to receive routine vaccinations (diphtheria-tetanus-acellular pertussis, inactivated poliovirus, hepatitis B plus Haemophilus influenzae type b, and seven-valent pneumococcal vaccine) at 2, 4, and 6 months of age alone, or concomitantly with 4CMenB or serogroup C conjugate vaccine (MenC) in: 1) an open-label, lot-to-lot immunogenicity and safety substudy of three 4CMenB lots compared with routine vaccines alone (1:1:1:1, block size eight); or 2) an observer-blind, lot-to-lot safety substudy of three 4CMenB lots compared with MenC (1:1:1:3, block size six). At 12 months, 4CMenB-primed children from either substudy were randomised (1:1, block size two) to receive 4CMenB booster, with or without measles-mumps-rubella-varicella (MMRV) vaccine. Immunogenicity was assessed by serum bactericidal assay with human complement (hSBA) against serogroup B test strains, and on randomly selected subsets of serum samples for routine vaccines; laboratory personnel were masked to assignment. The first coprimary outcome was lot-to-lot consistency (hSBA geometric mean ratio of all lots between 0·5 and 2·0), and the second was an immune response (hSBA titre ≥5) for each of the three strains. The primary outcome for the booster study was immune response to booster dose. Immunogenicity data for 4CMenB were for the modified intention-to-treat population, including all infants from the open-label substudy who provided serum samples. The safety population included all participants who contributed safety data after at least one dose of study vaccine. These trials are registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, numbers NCT00657709 and NCT00847145.
Findings: We enrolled 2627 infants in the open-label phase, 1003 in the observer-blind phase, and 1555 in the booster study. Lot-to-lot consistency was shown for the three 4CMenB lots, with the lowest 95% lower confidence limit being 0·74 and the highest upper limit being 1·33. Of 1181–1184 infants tested 1 month after three 4CMenB doses (all lots pooled), 100% (95% CI 99–100) had hSBA titres of 5 or more against strains selective for factor H binding protein and neisserial adhesin A, and 84% (82–86) for New Zealand outer-membrane vesicle. In a subset (n=100), 84% (75–91) of infants had hSBA titres of 5 or more against neisseria heparin binding antigen. At 12 months of age, waning titres were boosted by a fourth dose, such that 95–100% of children had hSBA titres of 5 or more for all antigens, with or without concomitant MMRV. Immune responses to routine vaccines were much the same with or without concomitant 4CMenB, but concomitant vaccination was associated with increased reactogenicity. 77% (1912 of 2478) of infants had fever of 38·5°C or higher after any 4CMenB dose, compared with 45% (295 of 659) after routine vaccines alone and 47% (228 of 490) with MenC, but only two febrile seizures were deemed probably related to 4CMenB.
Interpretation: 4CMenB is immunogenic in infants and children aged 12 months with no clinically relevant interference with routine vaccines, but increases reactogenicity when administered concomitantly with routine vaccines. This breakthrough vaccine offers an innovative solution to the major remaining cause of bacterial meningitis in infant and toddlers.
Funding: Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics.