New blood test for meningitis

15th November 2018

Meningitis Now welcome news that researchers are developing a blood test to speed up and improve the diagnosis of patients with suspected meningitis – which could also help cut unnecessary antibiotic treatment

Blood test for meningitis blog

While this project, undertaken at the University of Liverpool’s Institute of Infection and Global Health, is in its very early developmental stages, any research that helps build a better understanding of the disease and of early disease management is always of interest to us.

The £1.6m project, funded by the Medical Research Council and industry partner Fast Track Diagnostics, aims to develop a new laboratory test that measures the body’s response to infection in the blood. We understand that the test will be able to distinguish between bacterial and viral meningitis without the need for an invasive lumbar puncture.  

Because doctors often treat a patient with antibiotics before they find out whether the meningitis is viral or bacterial, we hope that this new test would lead to a cut-back on antibiotic use. Although antibiotics are vital to fight bacterial disease, they are unnecessary for viral infections - but an over-use of them worldwide is leading to a worrying rise in antibacterial resistance. 

Our CEO Dr Tom Nutt said, “It is great news that the Medical Research Council is investing money in meningitis research, even if this project is still in its very early stages.

“Any work in this area is welcome and we will follow the progress of this project carefully and with interest, as, sadly, many cases of meningitis are not diagnosed accurately or quickly enough, and often with terrible consequences."

“In the absence of a vaccine to tackle all strains of meningitis, the first line of defence remains knowing the signs and symptoms of the disease, trusting your instincts, and acting fast in seeking medical help.”

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