Meningitis Now staff member Andy Hopkinson

New pneumococcal meningitis research project gets underway

Andy Hopkinson | 1st August 2022

We’re delighted to announce that we’ve reinstated funding through Spencer’s Legacy: Nobody Left Behind, for a major research project, looking to develop an improved vaccine for pneumococcal meningitis

New pneumococcal meningitis research project underway

The Covid-19 pandemic, and the uncertainty this created over funding, meant we originally had to withdraw our support for this project, so it’s particularly pleasing now to be able to mark the start of this vital research.

Funding research is of course one of the core aims of our charity. Over the last 35 years, we’ve funded over £12.6 million of research, contributing to the development and introduction of lifesaving vaccines in the UK.

We recognise that medical research is key to achieving our goal of defeating meningitis and, with your support, we will continue to fund research into the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of meningitis and sepsis. We believe this research could one day end the devastation caused by meningitis forever.

Preventing pneumococcal meningitis

This latest project focuses on pneumococcal meningitis and aims to develop a multivalent Streptococcus pneumoniae recombinant glycoconjugate vaccine for preventing meningitis. 

It will be led by Professor Jeremy Brown of University College London and Professor Brendan Wren of London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

Pneumococcal meningitis is a life-threatening type of bacterial meningitis. Even with prompt treatment, the outcome of pneumococcal meningitis is often poor, with about 10 to 15 per cent of cases resulting in death. 

A quarter of those who survive can be left with severe and disabling after-effects, such as acquired brain injury, hearing loss and epilepsy. Prevention of disease through vaccination is the most effective way of saving lives.

Cheaper and more effective vaccines

Pneumococcal meningitis is caused by the bacterium Streptococcus pneumoniae; often called the pneumococcus. There are over 95 different strains and current vaccines are based on some, but not all, of these. Most strains have the potential to cause disease and strains not covered by existing vaccines are becoming more common in the community. 

This means there is an urgent need for cheaper and more effective vaccines that will potentially protect against all pneumococcal strains. 

This project builds on a previous study, also funded by us, and has the potential to produce these cheaper vaccines that protect against more strains of pneumococcal bacteria.

We’ll keep you up to date on progress and you can read more about this and our other research projects here.

Read more about Spencer’s Legacy: Nobody Left Behind.

Our research is only made possible by the generous support of people like you. Help us continue by donating, or raising funds for our work.

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