SPIT Study

SPIT Study Date: 07 February 2017 - 07 February 2017
Location: University of Bristol, UK

Thank you to everyone who made it to our Research Discovery Day at Bristol’s Education and Research Centre on the 7th February 2017. 

We had a wonderful evening learning all about Professor Adam Finn’s research which is helping to show whether vaccinating teenagers against MenB could prevent them unknowingly carrying and spreading the infection to others. 

The evening began with Professor Adam Finn talking us through the science behind the SPIT study. This highly informative presentation explained everything from the basics of DNA to the importance of spitting and swabbing! Currently the MenB vaccine is only offered to babies under one year of age. But Professor Finn explained that the social behavior of teenagers actually makes them much more likely to transmit the infection than babies.

For the MenB vaccine to be offered to teenagers, there must be proof that it wipes out bacterial carriage. The research team are gathering evidence for this in the current study. The SPIT study will also provide a ‘how to’ guide for a large national study which the government agreed to back after last year’s MenB petition. Additionally, it’s helping with the design of an even larger study just starting in Australia. Many of us had questions for Professor Finn and there was plenty of discussion about how the SPIT study is trying to answer really important questions about bacterial carriage and how it will influence the large scale studies. 


Up next was Jenny Hughes. Jenny gave an animated account of her involvement as a research nurse in the teenage vaccine study. From broom cupboard dramas to overcoming the challenges of a dry mouth during spit sample collection– Jenny certainly gave us all an insight into the world of a clinical research nurse!

Dr Jenny Oliver rounded off the evening by discussing the challenges involved in conducting clinical research in schools. Unfortunately with the packed programme, we ran out of time for the interactive element, but that didn’t stop a few lucky people experiencing swabbing! 

Many thanks go to the researchers for providing such an enlightening insight into what they do and for being so helpful in answering questions. If you’re interested in attending a discovery day, please contact me elizabethr@meningitis.org to find out about future visits and how you can get involved.