A possible universal vaccination to protect against all strains of meningitis is in development according to Scientists at the Children’s Hospital Boston, US. Streptococcus pneumonia is the bug which causes meningitis and there are more than 90 different strains identified. The disease mostly effects children in developing countries, but worldwide kills more than one million children a year. In the UK, bacterial meningitis which is the most serious form affects 3000 people each year, causing 300 deaths; while pneumonia, which is caused by the bug can affect up to 40,000 people.
Current vaccinations work by forcing the body to make antibodies that destroy the sugars caused by the bug. However at present only certain strains of meningitis are vaccinated against because different strains of the disease carry different sugars. The new vaccine would target the proteins within the bug, which do not change from strain to strain.
The vaccine has been tested on mice, and positive results show the proteins were effective in forming immunity towards all strains of the bug. Clinical trials will start shortly once the correct formula for the vaccine has been created for humans