Patients could benefit from new meningitis test

February 17, 2014 by Lachlan Mackinnon

A new test for meningitis – which could help deliver faster and more effective treatments for patients – has been developed through University of Strathclyde-led research.

The onset of meningitis is often rapid and severe, particularly when a is the cause – and the latest research could speed up diagnosis, leading to better outcomes for patients.

Dr Karen Faulds, a Reader in Strathclyde's Department of Pure and Applied Chemistry, led the study. She 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."

Several types of bacteria cause meningitis and each is sensitive to different antibiotics. Dr Faulds and PhD student Kirsten Gracie, from the Centre for Molecular Nanometrology at Strathclyde – with partners at the University of Manchester – used a spectroscopic imaging technique known as SERS (surface enhanced Raman scattering) to identify which bacteria were present in a single sample, with a view to analysing from patients suspected to have .

Dr Faulds said: "The great advantage of the SERS technique is that it gives sharp, recognisable signals, like finger printing, so we can more easily discriminate what analytes – or chemical substances – are present in a mixture."

A series of DNA probes, containing dyes detectable by SERS, made it possible to single out the different pathogens, three types of which - Haemophilus influenzae, Streptococcus pneumoniae and Neisseria meningitidisis – were tested for. The faster the type of bacteria can be identified by DNA analysis, the faster patients can receive the most effective antibiotic for their condition.

This also reduces the need for broadband antibiotics, overuse of which is increasing bacterial resistance. Combining the SERS technique with chemometrics – data-driven extraction of information from chemical systems – means the amount of bacteria in a sample can be measured whilst simultaneously identifying the . The chemometrics work was carried out in collaboration with Professor Roy Goodacre at the University of Manchester.

The researchers believe the would be particularly useful where co-infection of multiple species is common and identifying the dominant pathogen present would allow targeted treatment. The study has been published in the journal Chemical Science.

Explore further: Antibiotic 'smart bomb' can target specific strains of bacteria

More information: "Simultaneous detection and quantification of three bacterial meningitis pathogens by SERS." Kirsten Gracie, Elon Correa, Samuel Mabbott, Jennifer A. Dougan, Duncan Graham, Royston Goodacre, Karen Faulds. Chem. Sci., 2014,5, 1030-1040. DOI: 10.1039/C3SC52875H

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Findings illuminate animal evolution in protein function

July 27, 2015

Virginia Commonwealth University and University of Richmond researchers recently teamed up to explore the inner workings of cells and shed light on the 400–600 million years of evolution between humans and early animals ...

Bleach a possible key to life on earth

July 23, 2015

Hydrogen peroxide - commonly used as hair bleach - may have provided the energy source for the development of life on Earth, two applied mathematicians have found.

Acetic acid as a proton shuttle in gold chemistry

July 24, 2015

A recently published study gives a vivid example of unusual chemical reactivity associated with organogold complexes. Using modern physical methods and computational studies, the authors propose a reaction mechanism in which ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.