Health Minister congratulates staff for developing new meningitis test


At today’s visit to the Northern Ireland Regional Virus Laboratory and HSC innovations at the Royal Victoria Hospital, Health Minister Simon Hamilton congratulated staff on the work they have carried out recently in developing and licensing a rapid test for a severe form of bacterial meningitis.

The ‘LAMP’ test is used for Meningococcus - the most common cause of bacterial meningitis and septicaemia in the UK and Ireland with up to 2000 cases annually, affecting mostly babies, young children and adolescents. This new test is faster, simpler and less costly than other similar tests and had the potential to be used at the patient’s bedside in an emergency department.

Praising the work done, the Minister said “There is no doubt that this research has the potential to reduce morbidity and mortality by facilitating early diagnosis and treatment.”

New research and development (R&D) strategy

During his visit the Minister also announced the launch of the new research and development (R&D) strategy for the Health and Social Care Sector.

With investment of over £10 million annually, the new strategy aims to enhance the health, wellbeing and prosperity of people in Northern Ireland through world renowned research and development.
Outlining his priorities for research funding in the coming years the Minister said: “Northern Ireland is internationally acknowledged as a leader in many areas of health and healthcare related research.

We only have to look at recent advances in research into the treatment of pancreatic cancer and cystic fibrosis as examples. Northern Ireland researchers also lead many clinical intervention trials in critical care and ophthalmology and our expertise in nutrition and food research is widely acknowledged.

“Recognition of Northern Ireland as a centre of excellence for research into precision medicine across the UK also enhances our standing while the innovative work of the Northern Ireland Genomic Medicine Centre will continue to build our reputation internationally.”

The strategy aims to build on the success of its predecessor, strengthening links between research and better policy making, increasing success in competing for additional funding, enhancing our research infrastructure and effectively communicating the findings.

Pictured: Dr Lisa McCoy, Biomedical Scientist, Professor Peter Coyle, Consultant Virologist, Health Minister Simon Hamilton