Meningitis Research Foundation (MRF) is celebrating ten years since the conception of the MRF-Meningococcal Genome Library (MGL). This ground breaking resource was designed to provide the complete genetic blueprint of every meningococcus isolated as a cause of meningitis and septicaemia in the UK since July 2010.
Established under the leadership of Prof Chris Tang at the University of Oxford, as a collaboration between the Maiden laboratory at the University of Oxford, the Wellcome Sanger Institute, and Public Health England Meningococcal Reference Unit, the vision was to create a long-lasting tool for the scientific community. A key part of achieving this was ensuring that the library remained freely available to all.
Over a decade later, the library has established itself as an invaluable resource that continues to be used by scientists and doctors across the globe. Over 5,000 meningococcal genomes have now been sequenced, allowing changes and emerging threats from meningococcal bacteria to be tracked and appropriate responses initiated.
Soon after its establishment, the MRF-MGL demonstrated its capacity for transformative impact: enabling researchers to show that a steep rise in deadly cases of MenW in England and Wales was caused by a particularly harmful new strain of bacteria originating in South America. In response, the UK introduced an emergency MenACWY vaccination programme for teenagers
, stopping this deadly strain in its tracks and reducing the further spread of disease.