Researchers from Trinity College in Dublin and the University of Leicester have found a breakthrough in a vaccine for meningitis and pneumonia.

The research teams have discovered the method the body fights meningitis and pneumonia.

According to the Webmd site at, while the symptoms of bacterial and viral meningitis are often the same, bacterial meningitis almost always strikes suddenly.

It is said that meningitis causes more than one million infant deaths each year.

There are 90 known strains of the infection.

Researches have spent four years working on the vaccine and have recently identified a specific toxin that triggers the body's natural defenses.

They feel their breakthrough is so advanced it may be able to knock out all 90 strains of the organism.

The collaborative research was led by Dr Ed Lavelle from Trinity College Dublin and Dr Aras Kadioglu from the University of Leicester with Dr Edel McNeela of TCD as its lead author.

"In order to develop improved pneumococcal vaccines for both the very young and the elderly, it is essential to understand how this bacterium interacts with the host immune system," Dr Aras Kadioglu said.

"The discoveries described in our paper represent a huge stride towards this objective."

"The discovery will lead to a dramatic shift in our understanding of how the body's immune system responds to infection caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae and will pave the way for more effective vaccines," Trinity College said in a statement.