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Innovative Bexsero

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First vaccine to be designed using reverse vaccinology1,5

This novel approach was necessary to overcome challenges linked to traditional vaccines:2

  • Capsular vaccines have proven poorly immunogenic due to the structural homology between the B polysaccharide and human tissue leading to immunological tolerance2
  • Outer Membrane Vesicle-based Vaccines have proven immunogenic and effective for a single serogroup B strain and therefore limited in the ability to help protect against different meningococcal serogroup B strains2

Reverse vaccinology explained

Reverse vaccinology

Illustration copyrights GlaxoSmithKline

  • The N. meningitides serogroup B genome had previously been sequenced in full.1
  • From this sequence, 2158 open reading frames were identified.1 570 proteins that were likely to induce bactericidal antibodies were identified using bioinformatics. 1 ,4
  • 350 of these open reading frames were cloned in an E.coli expression system. These recombinant proteins were purified and used to immunise mice. 1 ,4
  • These 350 proteins were then assayed where 91 proteins were identified to either be expressed on the cell surface or have serum bactericidal activity. 1 ,4
  • Of these 91 proteins, 28 were able to actually induce antigens with bactericidal activity against multiple MenB strains. 1 ,4
  • The 3 most immunogenic antigens NHBA, fHbp, and NadA were selected as well as the Porin protein, PorA, to be part of the composition of the Bexsero vaccine. 1 ,3


  1. Del Tordello E and Serruto D. Brief Funct Genomics. 2013;12:328–340
  2. Giuliani MM, et al. PNAS. 2006;103:10834–10839
  3. Bexsero Summary of Product Characteristics.
    Available at  Last accessed – July 2020
  4. Pizza et al, Science. 2000;287:1816-1820
  5. Seib KL,Zhao X, Rappuoli R, Clin. Microb.and  Infec. 2012;18:109-116

Adverse events should be reported directly to the HPRA; Freepost, Pharmacovigilance Section, Health Products Regulatory Authority, Earlsfort Terrace, Dublin 2, Tel: +353 1 676 4971 . Adverse events should also be reported to GlaxoSmithKline on 1800 244 255.

Bexsero is a registered trademark of the GlaxoSmithKline Group of Companies