A new technique for diagnosing meningitis has been developed by researchers at the University of Strathclyde, which, it is hoped, could help deliver faster and more effective treatments for patients. 

Several different types of bacteria can cause bacterial meningitis - the onset of which can be rapid and severe - and as each is sensitive to different antibiotics their speedy identification is crucial.

The researchers found that using a spectroscopic imaging technique known as SERS (surface enhanced Raman scattering) - which basically involves firing a laser into a sample that has been exposed to silver particles - is able to identify more than one bacterium at a time, and thereby paves the way for faster and more targeted treatment. 

In addition, research partnered with the University of Manchester found that combining the SERS technique with chemometrics – data-driven extraction of information from chemical systems – allows for the amount of bacteria in a sample to be measured while simultaneously identifying the bacteria. 

The researchers believe the new test would be particularly useful "where co-infection of multiple species is common and identifying the dominant pathogen present would allow targeted treatment".

The study was published in the journal Chemical Science._