Touching Lives - October 2011
Commitment to meningitis research continues
Both meningitis and septicaemia can strike at alarming speed. About one in 20 of those who become ill lose their lives and survivors can be left with permanent disabilities. Many are children under four or teenagers aged between 15 and 19.
Infection by a bacterium known for short as MenB is a leading cause of these conditions in the UK. Although life-saving antibiotics exist, some children are so poorly by the time they get to hospital that this treatment comes too late.
The best hope of preventing meningitis is immunisation, but no vaccine has yet been approved to protect children from MenB. This bacterium causes around 1,000 to 1,500 cases of meningitis and septicaemia each year in the UK, so effective treatment is urgently needed.
With your support a team of expert researchers, led by Professor Andrew Pollard at the University of Oxford, are creating and testing a new vaccine packaged in a modified, harmless cold virus. Evidence suggests that using this sort of virus might make it more effective.
An effective vaccine could stop children from developing meningitis and septicaemia, saving many lives and stopping the development of serious, lifelong disabilities, such as blindness, deafness and loss of limbs.
The researchers believe their new vaccine could benefit children in the UK and worldwide. They expect it to be highly affordable, making it suitable for widespread use. If their work is successful, they plan to set up clinical trials as soon as possible.