Scientists develop vaccine to protect against gonorrhea

Gonorrhoea. Photo credit should read: CDC/PA Wire
Gonorrhoea. Photo credit should read: CDC/PA Wire

The first vaccination shown to protect against the sexually transmitted infection gonorrhoea has been developed by scientists.

The medical breakthrough comes at a time of increased concern over the prevalence of gonorrhoea, which has previously proven to be resistant to medicine.

The 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."

There were 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.

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.

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.