Nose drop to prevent meningitis

26th November 2018

Meningitis Now supporters may have seen news about the world-first trial in Southampton of a new nose-drop that could help prevent meningitis

Nose drop to prevent meningitis blog

Although it’s still very early days, we welcome this good news and will certainly be following progress of the trial closely. 

The trial, which is being led by Professor Rob Read, director of the NIHR Biomedical Research Centre at the University of Southampton, involves treatment with a nose drop which contains genetically modified “friendly” bacteria called Neisseria lactamica (Nlac).

Neisseria meningitidis (meningococcal) bacteria are the most common cause of bacterial meningitis and septicaemia in the UK. Nlac is a closely related - but harmless - relative

Meningitis Now Director of Research and Support Bev Corbett explained that about 10% of adults carry meningococcal bacteria in the back of the nose and throat, but in most cases, this does not result in disease. However, in some people, these bacteria invade the bloodstream and cause life-threatening meningitis and/or septicaemia.

“In a previous study, these researchers had shown that adults could carry Nlac harmlessly in the back of the nose and throat for several months, and that these ‘friendly’ bacteria prevented the potentially harmful meningococcal bacteria from colonising this area”, she said. 

“The researchers have now enhanced the harmless Nlac bacteria by inserting a gene that makes the surface of the bacteria ‘sticky’ and therefore more able to remain in the back of the nose and throat for longer."

“As this gene is from the potentially harmful meningococcal bacteria, it will also allow the body to produce a strong immune response against these meningitis-causing bacteria

“If this trial is successful, it could provide an alternative way to prevent meningitis and septicaemia.”