Research lead Professor Wilhelm Schwaeble explained: "I am really excited about this landmark discovery. We demonstrate that boosting the innate immune system can have a significant impact on the body's ability to defend itself against life-threatening infections."
He is the professor of Immunology and Royal Society-Wolfson Research Merit Award Holder from the University of Leicester. An additional benefit of this treatment is that it was shown to effectively neutralise the harmful toxins released by bacteria when they are destroyed. There is a recognised problem with current treatments which can kill bacteria but do not combat the effects of toxic substances inside or released from bacteria, which often prove more harmful than the bacteria itself.
The artificial properdin was shown to kill bacteria by making them 'pop' like balloons in mouse and human blood with massive numbers of meningitis bacteria being directly destroyed following Pn treatment. This method was also tested by the researchers on human blood in the lab where it was found to have a similar combative effect.
Professor Schwaeble added: "What is especially exciting is that the infected mice continued to look healthy and normal after Pn treatment. We feared that the release of meningococcal debris into the bloodstream as a consequence of this treatment could prove to be fatal, however, the fact that treated mice looked healthy after infection indicates that the Pn also has a neutralising effect on the potentially toxic bacterial debris released.
"Next, we will expand our research to investigate other bacterial strains to assess which infectious diseases can be most effectively treated by Pn injections. We are also preparing the human Pn for toxicological studies and hope to see the first in-human trials within the next five years."