SCIENTISTS at a Scottish university have developed a new test which will make the diagnosis of bacterial meningitis quicker and easier.

The condition, which is most common in children under the age of five and can lead to blood poisoning and brain damage, is normally diagnosed through a painful lumbar puncture.

It is treated with broad-spectrum antibiotics but these can attack good bacteria in the body too. The technique, which has been developed by experts at Strathclyde University, uses laser beams fired at a sample of spinal fluid which has been mixed with silver nanoparticles.

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Scientists can then analyse the scattered light, allowing them to diagnose more than one disease-causing agent at a time.

Details of the test have been published in Chemical Science journal.