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Meningitis breakthrough

23rd February 2007

British researchers have gained fresh insight into why meningitis is so resilient and hope their findings could lead to the development of new treatments.

The team at Imperial College, London discovered that, in the case of meningitis, two enzymes work together to stop the body's immune system from fighting the disease and actually repair the virus’s DNA even after white blood cells have tried to destroy them. This new understanding of how enzymes repair DNA could help scientists produce ways to immobilise them which could in turn lead to the development of new treatments for meningitis and septicaemia.

Professor Paul Freemont from Imperial College said, "This work provides an insight into the precise roles of two enzymes in mending DNA and gives us a greater understanding than ever before into why these infections are so hard for the body to fight."

Meningitis and septicaemia are deadly diseases that can kill within hours. Meningitis causes inflammation of the lining around the brain and spinal cord and septicaemia is the blood poisoning form of the disease. It is estimated that between 3,500 and 4,000 people are affected annually.

 

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