Better, faster meningitis treatment

Different strains of meningitis call for different antibiotics, so it’s important to know which is which – and Strathclyde researchers are helping to achieve this.

New test for meningitis

Chemistry researchers at Strathclyde have led the development of a new meningitis test which could help deliver faster, more effective treatments for patients.

The tests could help to speed up diagnosis of meningitis, which can take hold rapidly and become severe, particularly when caused by a bacterial infection. Another challenge is that several types of bacteria cause the infection and each one is sensitive to different antibiotics.

Faster treatment also reduces the need for what are known as ‘broadband’ antibiotics, which bacteria become resistant to when they are overused.

Dr Karen Faulds, Department of Pure and Applied Chemistry

Lead researcher Dr Karen Faulds, of Strathclyde’s Department of Pure and Applied Chemistry, 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.

Research findings

The researchers used an imaging technique to identify, by DNA analysis, which bacteria were in a single sample. They used dyes which were detectable with the imaging technique and which helped to identify the bacteria causing the meningitis, as well as how much of it is present.

The technique, known as SERS (surface enhanced Raman scattering), gives sharp, recognisable signals, like fingerprinting, to help with identification.     

Collaborative research

The study was conducted with partners at the University of Manchester and appeared in the journal Chemical Science, published by the Royal Society of Chemistry.