Meningitis vaccine breakthrough

Medical researchers in London and Singapore say they might have discovered a breakthrough in finding a vaccine for one of the most fatal strains of meningitis.

There is currently no vaccine for the Group B strain, which doctors say claims the lives of thousands of people around the world each year, according to a news report.

The research teams say they have identified certain human genes behind the infection, which could lead to clues on how to combat the disease.

Researcher Dr. Simon Nadel, of Imperial College, London, told that researchers scanned the genetic codes of more than 6,000 people to determine why some individuals are more vulnerable to attacks by meningococcal meningitis than others.

Nadel said researchers found evidence that genetics plays a key role in the way the body responds to the infection, concluding that most people can carry the bacteria in their throat without ever succumbing to the disease. The infection strikes and leads to death, however, in up to 10 percent of cases.

“This is a significant breakthrough because for the first time we've identified genes that are important in determining how susceptible we are to infection with this bacteria,” Nadel told “And it could mean that the proteins we've identified could be used to develop a vaccine to protect us against all the different types of meningitis bacteria.”

Meningitis is an inflammation of the membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord and is sometimes referred to as spinal meningitis.