Nottinghamshire teenagers are being invited to join the fight against meningitis by taking part in a study to see whether giving a group B meningococcal (MenB) vaccine to teenagers reduces carriage of this bacteria in their throat, potentially providing protection to all ages from this dangerous infection.
Researchers at The University of Nottingham are working with schools around the county to find volunteers aged 16 to 18 years to take part in the national Be on the TEAM (Teenagers Against Meningitis) trial, led by the Oxford Vaccine Group at the University of Oxford
with funding and support from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR)
Dr Mathew Diggle is the Clinical Specialty Lead for Infection for the East Midlands Clinical Research Network (CRN)
and National lead for Diagnostics, from Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust
He said “The East Midlands has always supported important clinical research in infection and the region is fortunate to have some of the country’s leading researchers within the field. As part of this new meningitis study, we will be working with local schools to establish the evidence around the efficacy of providing the Meningitis B vaccine for young people in this age range.”
A total of 14 schools and colleges in Nottingham will be participating in the study, these are: Bilborough College; Bluecoat Aspley Academy; Bramcote College; Chilwell School and Sixth Form; Friesland School; Hucknall Sixth Form; Nottingham Academy; Nottingham Girls Academy; Nottingham High School; Nottingham University Academy of Science and Technology; Rushcliffe School; The South Wolds Academy and Sixth Form; The West Bridgford School; Trinity School.
A new approach
Dr David Turner, Honorary Consultant Microbiologist at the University of Nottingham’s School of Life Sciences will be leading the study in Nottingham, which will be conducted in collaboration with the University of Nottingham Health Service.
He said: “We’re excited to be joining national partners in this ground-breaking study and to be able to offer Nottingham teenagers the chance to play a part in research which could provide evidence to justify a new approach to meningitis vaccinations.”
Bacteria in the throat can cause meningitis (inflammation of the membranes that surround the brain) and septicaemia (blood poisoning), both of which can be fatal or cause long lasting damage. The age groups most at risk of meningitis are babies, pre-school children and teenagers.
While 13 to 14-year-olds currently receive a vaccine against group A, C, W and Y meningococcus, immunisation against MenB is currently targeted at babies as they are at highest risk.
All teenagers taking part in the study will receive two doses of a MenB vaccine. They will also have two throat swabs taken 12 months apart. The research team will look to see if the vaccines reduce the numbers of students carrying the meningitis-causing bacteria in their throat.
The trial will take place in three groups using two licensed MenB vaccines, 4CMenB (Bexsero) and MenB-fHBP (Trumenba). One group of 8,000 will get 4CMenB while another 8,000 will get MenB-fHBP. The vaccines will be given at the start of the study and six months later.
A further 8,000 youngsters will act as a ‘control group’ and not get the vaccine at first, so swabs can be taken 12 months apart and results compared to those who do get the vaccine, to examine the difference. The control group will get the 4CMenB vaccine after they have had the swabs taken, so they benefit from the protection it provides.
The trial is voluntary and will be conducted through schools in at least 14 towns and cities in England, Scotland and Wales with each enrolling students to one study group. Students can give their own consent. The study will be recruiting over 18 months from April 2018.
Dr Matthew Snape, of the University’s Oxford Vaccine Group, said: “This is a really exciting opportunity for teenagers to ‘Be on the TEAM’ and take part in this important study, which is being funded and supported by the NIHR. Participants will not only get a vaccine that reduces their risk of meningitis but also help us understand if we can prevent the bug being carried and potentially spread to others.”
The fight against a killer disease
Amy Davis, from Fleet, Hampshire, was 18 when she fell ill with meningococcal B septicaemia in 2011. She had gone to bed with what seemed like the flu but woke up in the night with severe aches and pains and feeling confused.
She later collapsed and an ambulance was called when her parents noticed she was deteriorating and slipping in and out of consciousness. Amy received urgent medical treatment which saved her life. During a long recovery period it was clear that septicaemia had affected Amy’s arms and legs and she later had to have her left leg amputated below the knee.
Amy, now 25, said: “Meningitis and septicaemia is something nobody should have to experience. By taking part in this study, young people will get the MenB vaccination.
“It will help protect them from the type of meningitis that almost killed me. I’m encouraging all those offered the vaccine to have it. It could save their life.”
Vinny Smith, Chief Executive at Meningitis Research Foundation said, “It’s fantastic news that this study is now starting. Not only will it give a number of young people the chance to be protected against MenB, we’ll also find out more about the potential to protect the whole population because this age group play a key role in the spread of the bacteria to others.”
Dr Tom Nutt, chief executive of charity Meningitis Now, said: “This important study is a chance for young people to make a real difference to not only their own health but that of their wider community.
“We’re delighted to see this vaccine trial being rolled out and would urge everyone who can to get involved and help make a real difference in the fight against meningitis.”
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Notes to editors:
The University of Nottingham is a research-intensive university with a proud heritage, consistently ranked among the world's top 100. Studying at the University of Nottingham is a life-changing experience and we pride ourselves on unlocking the potential of our 44,000 students - Nottingham was named University of the Year for Graduate Employment in the 2017 Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide, was awarded gold in the TEF 2017 and features in the top 20 of all three major UK rankings. We have a pioneering spirit, expressed in the vision of our founder Sir Jesse Boot, which has seen us lead the way in establishing campuses in China and Malaysia - part of a globally connected network of education, research and industrial engagement. We are ranked eighth for research power in the UK according to REF 2014. We have six beacons of research excellence helping to transform lives and change the world; we are also a major employer and industry partner - locally and globally.
Impact: The Nottingham Campaign, its biggest-ever fundraising campaign, is delivering the University’s vision to change lives, tackle global issues and shape the future. More news…
The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR): improving the health and wealth of the nation through research.
Established by the Department of Health and Social Care, the NIHR:
· funds high quality research to improve health
· trains and supports health researchers
· provides world-class research facilities
· works with the life sciences industry and charities to benefit all
· involves patients and the public at every step
For further information, visit the NIHR website www.nihr.ac.uk
Oxford University are the sponsor for this study.
About Oxford University’s Medical Sciences Division: The Division is one of the largest biomedical research centres in Europe, with over 2,500 people involved in research and more than 2,800 students. The University is rated the best in the world for medicine, and it is home to the UK’s top-ranked medical school. From the genetic and molecular basis of disease to the latest advances in neuroscience, Oxford is at the forefront of medical research. It has one of the largest clinical trial portfolios in the UK and great expertise in taking discoveries from the lab into the clinic. Partnerships with the local NHS Trusts enable patients to benefit from close links between medical research and healthcare delivery. A great strength of Oxford medicine is its long-standing network of clinical research units in Asia and Africa, enabling world-leading research on the most pressing global health challenges such as malaria, TB, HIV/AIDS and flu. Oxford is also renowned for its large-scale studies which examine the role of factors such as smoking, alcohol and diet on cancer, heart disease and other conditions.
Meningitis Now is working towards a future where no one in the UK loses their life to meningitis and everyone affected gets the support they need. It does this by funding research into vaccines and prevention, raising awareness so people know what to look for and what action to take if they suspect meningitis and rebuilding futures by providing dedicated support to people living with the impact of the disease. See www.MeningitisNow.org
Meningitis Research Foundation is a leading UK and international charity working to defeat meningitis wherever it exists. We fund and support vital scientific research. We campaign and provide information to the public, health professionals and researchers that promotes prevention, early diagnosis and treatment, and raises awareness of the diseases. We also provide direct support and ongoing personal help to individuals and families affected, whether they are living with impairment caused by the diseases or coping with the death of a loved one. A study at the University of Bristol, funded by Meningitis Research Foundation, provided key evidence to enable effective design of this large-scale study. See www.meningitis.org