Improving understanding of meningococcal disease in Scotland by linking the genetic blueprint of the bug to information about the patient

Pioneering new MRF-supported genome sequencing research backed by Health Protection Scotland to improve prevention, diagnosis and treatment of meningitis

Scientific version
  • Researchers:
    Dr Alison Smith-Palmer, Dr Claire Cameron, Dr Gavin Paterson, Professor Andrew Smith, Professor Brian Jones, Professor Chris Robertson, Professor Martin Maiden
  • Start Date:
    09 June 2016
  • Category:
    Prevention, Treatment
  • Location:
    Health Protection Scotland, Glasgow, UK
Improving understanding of meningococcal disease in Scotland by linking the genetic blueprint of the bug to information about the patient

What is this project about?

Whole genome sequencing of meningococci has brought powerful new insights into the genetic make-up of these deadly bacteria. 

Under a previous MRF grant, the whole genome sequences of all meningococci that caused disease in Scotland between 2009 and 2013 were determined and catalogued in MRF's Meningococcus Genome Library, and this collection is currently being extended to include all disease-causing meningococci up until 2015.

This project will unlock further unlock knowledge from the existing collection of Scottish sequences by linking information about the patient with the whole genome sequences of the meningococcus that caused the disease.

Why is this important?

This research could help scientists to understand why only some people progress from harmless carriage to overwhelming disease, and why the severity of disease differs among different people and different strains of bacteria.

Potential outcomes

This research will help scientists understand how factors, such as the genetic make-up of the meningococcus, the age of the patient, the patient's vaccine history and the medical care received by the patient, interact to determine the severity of the disease. This information will then be available for improved diagnosis, treatment and protection of meningococcal meningitis and septicaemia.