Meningitis is the second largest infectious killer of children in the world. Meningitis is usually caused by a viral or a bacterial infection. Viral meningitis, the most common, is less serious; however, bacterial meningitis can lead to severe health problems if not treated. The symptoms presented by patients infected by bacterial meningitis are very similar to those of many illnesses, which hinders its detection. The current diagnostic test is time-consuming and requires of specialised laboratories, involving the examination of cerebrospinal fluid. This leads, in some cases, to the administration of antibiotics before confirmation of the infection.
There is a need for the development of diagnostics tests for the early detection and discrimination of bacterial meningitis that are rapid, simple to perform and that can be deployed at the point-of-care. Addressing this challenge forms the basis of this PhD scholarship. The outcome of this project could set the basis for the development of point-of-care diagnostic tools for other infectious diseases and would limit unnecessary use of antibiotics.
The student will be trained in innovative analytical techniques and in the development of lateral-flow assays for use with real samples. This project involves working in collaboration with Dr Zoë Waller (School of Pharmacy, UEA) and with the industrial partner Iceni Diagnostic Ltd. based at the Norwich Research Park. The project would suit an ambitious individual with a physical sciences background who is looking to work at the chemistry-biology interface.