How Are We Defeating Meningitis Through Technology?

Each year, there are around 750 confirmed cases of meningitis in the UK and, while this disease predominantly affects children, it can be contracted by adults. It can be dangerous if not treated swiftly. Cases of compensation for meningitis are common as, all too often, it is misdiagnosed and then, after diagnosis, is not treated quickly enough or effectively enough.

child tratment
Source: Pixels

At the present time, there are some vaccinations available to help prevent meningitis. Despite this, our best hope remains in finding a cure and, in this article, we’ll be shining a spotlight on the technology that is helping to defeat meningitis.

In this article, we look at the technology that is helping to beat meningitis. Take a look…

What is Meningitis?

Meningitis is, in simple terms, an infection that targets the protective membranes which surround the brain and the spinal cord. If left undetected and untreated, meningitis can lead to blood poisoning (also known as septicemia), which, in severe cases, can be fatal. Symptoms of meningitis can include:

  • A fever or usually high temperature
  • Nausea and / or vomiting
  • Headaches
  • A stiff or sore neck
  • A raised red rash which remains when a glass is rolled over the affected area
  • An aversion to bright light
  • Seizures / fits
  • Drowsiness

If you or your child exhibits one or more of these symptoms, it’s important to contact your GP or emergency room immediately.

Most cases of compensation for meningitis result from action not being taken quickly enough to diagnose and treat the disease. This neglect can lead to some fairly severe long term – and even permanent – side effects such as:

  • A loss of memory
  • A lack of concentration
  • Frequent headaches
  • Deafness and other hearing problems including tinnitus
  • Dizziness and loss of balance
  • Speech problems
  • Vision problems
  • Weakness and / or paralysis
  • Epilepsy

Suffering one or more of these side effects can be highly detrimental to the sufferer’s quality of life and independence.

Using Tech to Vanquish Meningitis

The medical world has been working tirelessly for decades to find treatments and cures for meningitis and, in 2022, it seems that the answer may lie in advanced technology. Scientists, such as Professor Dominique Caugant, have joined the fight against meningitis and used technology to tackle the issue.

Professor Caugant and her team have been using cutting-edge sequencing technology to collate and analyze several thousand samples from healthy people in Africa to study the genetic makeup of meningitis and the effect of vaccinations on the MenA strain of meningitis. The research is helping the team to identify genetic changes, DNA that can hold disease-causing capabilities, and new variants of meningitis.

Source: Pixabay

Elsewhere, scientists have been using technology to harness the body’s immune cells’ power to combat the disease. The University of Copenhagen found that a type of immune cell known as the neutrophils creates a web-like structure within the brain.

The team used advanced modeling to ascertain that when this structure, rather than the immune cells, is destroyed, it can form an extremely effective solution without causing dangerous swelling to the brain.

Technology for Detecting Meningitis

Technology is also lending a helping hand in detecting meningitis. In the past, identifying this potentially deadly disease required an NHS gold standard blood cultures test which takes around 48 hours to net results – precious time that many patients can ill afford. Researchers at Queen’s University have now developed a new diagnostic test known as LAMP, which can produce results in an hour or less.

Diagnosis of meningitis has been complicated in the last couple of years. There have been several instances of meningitis being diagnosed as COVID-19 due to the similarity of several of the symptoms.

The test (Loop-Mediated Isothermal Amplification) has proven as effective as traditional methods while drastically cutting down the time needed. Lead Researcher Dr. James McKenna says, ‘When diagnosing the LAMP diagnosis, we focused on producing a test that would be easy to use for clinicians in a hospital setting, taking away from what can be a timely cost of tests being performed by trained lab technicians. 

Without becoming overly technical, LAMP works by using between four and six primers to identify and recognize up to eight distinct regions of target DNA to create a particular amplification reaction. A strand-displacing DNA polymerase (a kind of enzyme) then initiates synthesis while two primers form loop-type structures for subsequent rounds of amplification.

While LAMP has not yet been rolled out to mainstream hospitals, it’s clear that, in time, this kind of technology will prove to be vital in the speedy diagnosis and, therefore, treatment of this dangerous disease.

Is Tech the Answer to Meningitis

Advanced technology is giving medical science a welcome shot in the arm in pretty much every area possible – from diagnostics to communication to actual treatment of patients. The hope is that the technology highlighted in this article will be taking the world ever closer to reaching a cure for an illness that causes untold distress to families all over the world.

Thankfully, even without this new technology, it’s not all bad news as many people have suffered from – and overcome – meningitis, including some familiar names such as Brad Pitt, Victoria Beckham, and the absolutely fabulous Joanna Lumley.

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