Bacterial meningitis is a severe infection of the membranes covering the brain. Despite the availability of anitbiotics and other treatments still 20% of patients die and upt o half of the survivors have neurological sequelae such as hearing loss or cognitive defects. Bacteria causing meningitis reside in the throat and nose of many healthy people. Why these bacteria cause meningitis in some people and are harmless in others is unclear. Everyone’s DNA – the building blocks of the human cells- is unique and different. Previous research has shown that small variations in the DNA contribute to an increased risk of meningitis and the clinical course of the disease.
Aim of the study
The aim of the MeninGene study is to determine which genetic factors contribute to the susceptibility for bacterial meningitis and an unfavorable clinical course of the disease. To improve the prognosis of bacterial meningitis, new therapies are necessary. Studies about hereditary factors can give more insight in the contributing mechanisms of an unfavorable outcome of meningitis and can lead to new therapeutic strategies.
All patients with a community acquired bacterial meningitis proven by positive culture of cerebrospinal fluid will be asked to participate in this study. If a patient gives consent to participate in the study, blood will be collected for DNA analysis. The DNA will be analyzed for common genetic variations that are hypothesized to be more frequent in patients with bacterial meningitis compared to healthy individuals (control group). The control group consists of the patients’ partner or unrelated proxies living in the same dwelling. These controls have the same bacteria in their throat, and therefore have the same exposition to the bacteria. Furthermore, we will look at the genetic characteristics of the bacteria causing meningitis. Subsequently, in a database clinical data are collected on admission in the hospital, such as symptoms of the disease, results of blood laboratory tests and radiological examinations (CT or MRI scans). All of these investigations will be performed in the contect of standard care, no additional investigations are performed for the study. If left-over cerebrospinal fluid from the diagnostic puncture is available this will be used for further research.
European meningitis database (MeninGene Biobank)
If permission is obtained, we will add your clinical data, blood and cerebrospinal fluid in a European database, called the MeninGene Biobank. Data in this database will be stored in an encrypted fashion guaranteeing your privacy. The European meningitis database will be made available to European bacterial meningitis researchers to increase the yield of our research and find new treatments. By combining large groups of patients the chance of finding new clues for therapeutic options increases. In the MeninGene Biobank the DNA will be saved for 50 years.
Are there additional risks if you participate in the study?
If the patient or patient’s representative agrees to participating in the study, 14 ml of blood will be drawn for DNA analysis . If possible the blood collection will be combined with a regular blood withdrawal to minimize the number of invasive procedures. If not possible to combine the withdrawal, and additional blood withdrawal for the study will be performed. The risks of a venous blood withdrawal are minimal.