Pioneering research that could eventually help stop loss of limbs from meningitis

Understanding meningococcus-induced blood clotting - working towards new therapeutics for purpura fulminans

Researchers
Prof Xavier Nassif
Start Date
19 May 2016
Category
Diagnosis and Treatment
Organisation
Insitut Necker, Paris, France

What is this project about?

In meningococcal disease, widespread and uncontrolled blood clotting within the vessels blocks the supply of oxygenated blood to tissues with catastrophic consequences, including amputation and death. This cascade of uninhibited blood clotting is known as purpura fulminans syndrome. 

Previous research by Professor Xavier Nassif and his colleagues has shown that meningococci adhere to the blood vessel cells and interrupt the biochemical reactions that prevent blood clots from forming in the vessels. More specifically, the bacteria prevent a very important blood clotting inhibitor called activated Protein C (aPC) from playing its role. 

This project aims to decipher how meningococci inhibit aPC function. The results could form the basis for the development of new therapeutics to prevent purpura fulminans syndrome in patients with meningococcal disease.

Potential outcomes

To date there is no specific therapeutics that can be given to patients suffering from meningococcus infections in order to prevent skin destruction and amputations.

Scientists working on this projects aim to demonstrate that a recently withdrawn anticoagulant drug could be useful for this very specific indication.

Furthermore, the work should set up basis for the development of new therapeutics inhibiting the human enzyme, which activation by the meningococcus drives the blood clotting during the infection

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