Researchers pioneering the development of a nose drop containing a type of ‘friendly’ bacteria that could help prevent meningitis

Researchers pioneering the development of a nose drop containing a type of ‘friendly’ bacteria that could help prevent meningitis

03 August 2017

Researchers from Southampton have modified harmless bacteria which are closely related to the bacteria that are the most common cause of life threatening meningitis and septicaemia in the UK.

They hope the modified bacteria will be able to live inside the nose and generate an immune response that protects against meningitis.

Around 10% of adults carry the bacteria Neisseria meningitidis, commonly known as meningococcal bacteria, in the back of their nose and throat with no signs or symptoms.

However, in some people, the bacteria invade the bloodstream and cause life-threatening meningitis and septicaemia.

In a previous study, the research team found that inoculating adults with a ‘friendly’ bacterial species, known as, Neisseria lactamica (Nlac) which is a close cousin of N. meningitidis, resulted in Nlac settling harmlessly in the nose for months and prevented them carrying the potentially harmful N. meningitidis at the same time.

They now hope genetically enhancing the bacteria with a ‘sticky’ surface protein from N. meningitidis will increase the ability of Nlac to reside in the nose and also allow the body to generate a strong immune response against the meningitis-causing bacteria.

If successful, this could offer the potential to directly protect against disease and prevent the spread of infection.

Linda Glennie, Head of Research at Meningitis Research Foundation commented, “What is new about this project is using a genetically modified N.lactamica to try to protect against a closely related bacteria that causes meningitis.

“If it could be made to work it would be a big step forward in prevention. We need multiple tools at our disposal to combat meningitis and septicaemia and whilst we welcome this initiative its actual value as a vaccine has still to be thoroughly tested in clinical trials.”

Sam Williams
Media Relations Manager

Hi, I’m Sam and I’m MRF's PR Manager.

If you want to know more about this story call me on 0333 405 626251, out of office hours on 07875 498047 or email me

samanthaw@meningitis.org