Narrator: This is Science Today. Bacterial meningitis is one of the most serious infectious diseases and can affect patients of any age. Dr. Victor Nizet, a pediatric infectious disease expert at the University of California, San Diego, says it develops as a complication of bacteria circulating in the bloodstream. Such bacteria circulation is not uncommon.
Nizet: But our white blood cells and the filtering activity of organs such as the liver and the spleen will remove these bacteria from the circulation, so that we have no harm.
Narrator: But some pathogens establish higher levels in the bloodstream and may have a property to penetrate across the protective blood-brain barrier. Nizet is working to decipher just how this occurs.
Nizet: We developed a model of the human blood-brain barrier, in which capillary endothelial cells were isolated from a human patient, immortalized, and maintained in the laboratory, so that we could directly study interactions between bacteria and these cells that represent your blood-brain barrier.
Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.