A new vaccine offering protection against most strains of meningitis has been developed by a group of doctors funded by the Meningitis Association of Scotland.
Full details of the breakthrough will be announced at the Scottish Meningitis Conference, to be held in Edinburgh on March 6 2002 at 9.30am in the Lister Postgraduate Institute.
The recent development of a vaccine against Meningitis C has been effective in reducing meningococcal disease throughout the UK. However the Men C vaccine does not offer protection against other meningococcal serogroups.
The new vaccine would be effective against strains A, B and C of the disease, reducing both severity of attack and fatalities.
The research programme which led to the breakthrough has been funded by the Meningitis Association of Scotland who have sponsored scientists in Scotland
Australia and Germany.
The charity has its headquarters on the south side of Glasgow and was founded by Eileen and Hugh McKiernan following the sudden death of their son Lee to the disease at the age of 18. Ever since, the couple have devoted every waking hour to establishing the charity and fund-raising more than £250,000 so that a vaccine might be developed.
Eileen said: "This news is wonderful. I pay tribute to the scientists whose loyalty and determination has now paid off."
The new vaccine will not be immediately available. Pre-clinical data has provided extremely positive, but any vaccine still has to undergo a series of tests and assessments before being made available to GPs.
One of the scientists behind the breakthrough, Dr Jan Matthias Braun, said: "The new vaccine strategy is based on mechanisms associated with the development of natural immunity to meningococcal disease found in older adults and children and could be effective against more than 90 per cent of all cases worldwide."
More information from Eileen McKiernan on 0141 554 6680 or 0141 226 5898