Global Meningitis Genome Library

Establishing a Global Meningitis Genome Library to better track meningitis bacteria.
University of Oxford
Start Date
01 Jul 2019
Prevention, Diagnosis and Treatment
University of Oxford, Oxford, UK
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What is this project about?

In 2011, we supported the establishment of a Meningococcal Genome Library (MRF-MGL): a free online resource that provides the complete genetic blueprint of every meningococcus isolated as a cause of meningitis and septicaemia/sepsis in the UK.

The MRF-MGL marked a world first in providing the genetic information for an entire human disease for a whole country and has proved to be a valuable and lifesaving resource, helping to accurately diagnose cases of meningitis, and track changes and emerging threats of meningococcal bacteria.

Following the success of the MRF-MGL, and in recognition of the fact that meningitis is a global issue that urgently needs addressing, we are funding a team of researchers at the University of Oxford to establish a Global Meningitis Genome Library which provides data on the four leading causes of bacterial meningitis: the meningococcus, the pneumococcus, Haemophilus influenzae, and Group B streptococci (GBS), on a global scale.

The project involves collecting genomes from around the world and then processing them to ensure that the library provides accurate and meaningful information which is freely accessible to all.  After the first year of the project, over 22,000 genomes had been made available through the GMGL. The database will continue to be developed, and made more interactive to expand its user-ship.

Why is this important?

Through making the genomes available in an understandable, organised and structured way, the information can easily be used by scientists and doctors across the world. Genome data can help inform the design of new treatments, the development of vaccines, assess the impact of vaccines, and promote understanding of how the disease causing bacteria spread between people and evolve over time.

The MRF-MGL enabled researchers to discover that a steep rise in deadly cases of MenW in England and Wales was caused by a particularly harmful 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.

Cracking the code to meningitis

Cracking the code to meningitis

Further ways we are helping genomic research

The ability of meningitis bacteria to rapidly travel across the globe, demonstrates the profound importance of gathering information on a global scale to be able to defeat it.

As part of the WHO led Global Roadmap to Defeat Meningitis by 2030 we are also working with leading experts to establish a Global Meningitis Genome Partnership. The Partnership aims to link resources such as the GMGL and other meningitis genome libraries, to improve disease control globally, through achieving worldwide co-ordination of strain identification and tracking.

This work is being supported by GSK, Pfizer and Sanofi. This work is undertaken independently and funders have no influence on its conduct. This website is operated independently and funders have no editorial control over its contents.

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Since the charity was founded in 1989, we have awarded 161 research grants. The total value of our investment in vital scientific research is over £19.1 million (€24.7 million).
We take action that benefits people directly, including training health professionals and providing support and information services.
We call for positive change as a united voice against meningitis and septicaemia, and a dedicated champion for those it affects.
We've invested nearly £20 million into meningitis research since 1989. Now, we're looking back at our most incredible achievements so far.
Give researchers the clues to help defeat meningitis
Give researchers the clues to help defeat meningitis
£160/€190/$214 decodes the genetic information in a sample of meningococcal bacteria. This information helps us to track new forms of meningitis and campaign to introduce new vaccines.
Liz Rodgers
Research Projects Manager

Hi, I’m Liz and I’m MRF's Research Projects Manager.

If you’d like to know more about this area of MRF's work, do get in touch.

Tel: 0333 405 6258