Sheffield students take part in meningitis study

Sheffield students have taken part in meningitis research in a bid to find new ways to combat the disease.

In the study at Sheffield's Royal Hallamshire Hospital, 300 participants were inoculated with nasal drops of meningitis bacteria.

The study is led by Robert Read, Professor of Infectious Diseases.

Prof Read said it could be "an important piece in the jigsaw" if the inoculation stopped bacteria spreading in the nose and throat.

"As a clinician, every time you see another case of meningitis you wish it had been your last," Prof Read added.

The disease is an inflammation of the lining that covers the brain and spinal cord, and kills about 300 people each year. Hundreds more are left with permanent disabilities.

Fastest cases

Meningitis can affect anyone, but under fives, 16-24 year olds, and the elderly are most at risk.

The funds needed for the study - £130,000 - were raised by the parents of Ryan Bresnahan, a 16-year-old who died from the disease in 2010.

Ryan's was one of the fastest cases of meningitis ever recorded; he died an hour after complaining of an upset stomach at home in Bristol.

His parents John and Michelle Bresnahan set up the Life for a Cure appeal to support Meningitis UK's research.

Mrs Bresnahan said: "We are so grateful to the generous students of Sheffield for giving their time to this study which could play an important part in saving the lives of future students like Ryan - who are full of promise and deserve the right to live a full and healthy life."

Charity Meningitis UK called the study "very exciting, pioneering" and said it could shape the way meningitis is prevented in the future.

"Meningitis hits our young, fit people who are otherwise completely well - and sometimes leaves them with lasting disabilities."

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