Novartis has been boosted by new data which demonstrates that its experimental vaccine Menveo can be effective in protecting infants against the four most common types of meningococcal meningitis.

The data, which will be published in the Journal of the American Medical Association show that Menveo is the only jab shown to generate protection against meningococcal serogroups A, C, W-135 and Y. The Phase II trial involved 421 infants from the UK and Canada and Novartis says that the vaccine generated protective immune responses and was well tolerated.

Invasive meningococcal disease is an acute, contagious and potentially fatal disease that causes sepsis and meningitis. Each year, approximately 500,000 cases occur around the world, causing about 50,000 deaths, Novartis said, noting that no currently available quadrivalent vaccine including Sanofi Pasteur’s Menomune and Menactra “has demonstrated a strong and lasting immune response”.

Novartis is hoping to file the vaccine for regulatory approval in the European Union and the USA this year. Menveo is currently in multiple Phase III clinical trials involving infants, young children, adolescents and adults. If approved, it will compete against the Sanofi products, which are well-established, and this has led some analysts to fear that the potential sales of Menveo are fairly limited.