Purpose of review
Neisseria gonorrhoeae is one of the most common causes of sexually transmitted infections, with an estimated more than 100 million cases of gonorrhea each year worldwide. N. gonorrhoeae has gained recent increasing attention because of the alarming rise in incidence and the widespread emergence of multidrug-resistant gonococcal strains. Vaccine development is one area of renewed interest. Herein, we review the recent advances in this area.
Vaccine development for N. gonorrhoeae has been problematic, but recent progress in the field has provided new hope that a gonococcal vaccine may be feasible. Several new vaccine antigens have been characterized in various models of infection. Furthermore, the first potential vaccine-induced protection against gonorrhea in humans has been reported, with decreased rates of gonorrhea described among individuals vaccinated with the Neisseria meningitidis serogroup B vaccine, MeNZB.
As antibiotic resistance continues to increase, vaccine development for N. gonorrhoeae becomes more urgent. The MeNZB vaccine is shown to have efficacy, albeit relatively low, against N. gonorrhoeae. This finding has the potential to reinvigorate research in the field of gonococcal vaccine development and will guide future studies of the antigens and mechanism(s) required for protection against gonococcal infection.