Strathclyde researchers develop new test to improve meningitis treatment

Michael Giovannetti

A new test which could improve the treatment of meningitis has been developed through research led by the University of Strathclyde.

It is hoped that the research will help diagnose the disease quicker and therefore allow for more effective treatment for patients.

The study was led by Dr Karen Faulds, of the university’s Department of Pure and Applied Chemistry.

She said: “Meningitis is a hugely virulent and, in some forms, potentially highly dangerous infection. The type of antibiotic used to treat it depends on the strain of meningitis, so it is essential to identify this as quickly as possible.”

Bacterial meningitis is most common in children under 5 and can lead to blood poisoning and brain damage if it is not treated quickly.

Early treatment is often crucial in improving outcomes for patients, particularly when a bacterial infection is the cause. However, it can often take time to establish which bacteria are responsible.

There are several types which can cause meningitis, and each is sensitive to different antibiotics.

Dr Faulds and PhD student Kirsten Gracie, from the Centre for Molecular Nanometrology at Strathclyde, used a spectroscopic imaging technique known as SERS to identify which bacteria were present in a single sample.

The different types of bacteria are recognised through DNA analysis, and this new test can speed up the process, ensuring that patients receive the most effective antibiotic for their condition sooner.

As well as identifying the specific bacteria, the new test can be used to identify the quantity of each pathogen present.

The research, carried out in collaboration with partners at the University of Manchester, also reduces the need for broadband antibiotics. The overuse of which has resulted in increasing bacterial resistance. The findings of the study have been published in the journal Chemical Science, and researchers believe that the new test will allow for more targeted treatment of the disease.


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