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How Meningitis Bacteria Attack The Brain

A specific protein on the surface of a common bacterial pathogen allows the bacteria to leave the bloodstream and enter the brain, initiating the deadly infection known as meningitis. The new finding, which may guide development of improved vaccines to protect those most vulnerable, including young infants and the elderly, is now available online in the Journal of Experimental Medicine.

"Streptococcus pneumoniae, commonly known as pneumococcus, is responsible for half the cases of bacterial meningitis in humans," said the study's senior author, Victor Nizet, MD, professor of pediatrics and pharmacy at the University of California, San Diego's School of Medicine and Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences. "As many as 30 percent of patients can die from this rapidly progressing infection, while half of survivors may be left with permanent neurological problems including deafness, seizures, intellectual deficits or motor disabilities.
 
 

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