Meningococcal toxin and the immune system

Treatment; University College, Galway.

Scientific version
  • Researchers:
    Dr Angela Orren, Dr Anthony Moran
  • Start Date:
    01 January 1997
  • Category:
  • Location:
    University College, Galway, Ireland

In a person with meningococcal disease, bacteria invade the bloodstream and produce a toxin (or poison) called endotoxin. The toxin provokes excessive production of the body's natural inflammatory chemicals, bringing on the devastating cascade of events seen in meningococcal septicaemia. The higher the levels of toxin, the more severe is the disease.

This research explores the resistance of different strains of meningococcal bacteria to our defensive blood proteins (complement proteins) which normally kill bacteria, and analyses the toxin these strains of bacteria produce. Finding out how bacteria resist our defensive blood proteins, and how bacterial toxins trigger the destruction caused by septicaemia will aid in the development of effective treatments.