SIXTH formers are taking part in a new medical study.

The NHS is inviting teenagers to join the fight against meningitis by taking part in research.

It will see whether giving a group B meningococcal (MenB) vaccine to teenagers reduces carriage of this bacteria in their throat, potentially providing protection to all ages from this dangerous infection.

Newman College in Hove is the first school to take part in Sussex and three more schools in Brighton have committed to be involved.

They are Brighton College, Varndean College in Brighton and Bhasvic in Dyke Road, Hove.

Dr Katy Fidler, clinical senior lecturer in paediatrics at Brighton and Sussex Medical School and consultant at Royal Alexander Children’s Hospital, said: “I am delighted that this national study is under way, with the ultimate aim of seeing whether introducing the Meningitis B vaccine to teenagers could provide protection not only to this vulnerable age group, but also across the whole community. “This programme will give the participating pupils of Brighton and Hove the chance to be vaccinated as well as to learn more about meningitis and sepsis and the research process in the NHS.”

Jane Cole, senior Year 12 tutor at Newman College, said: “We are delighted to be the first 16 to 19 provider to be involved in Brighton and Hove.

“We have been highly impressed by the quality of information provided to students, parents and carers and the support from our students. “Many of us will know stories around teenager health and students becoming unwell through meningitis. I hope this research will raise awareness and help protect both our current students and future generations.”

Researchers are working with schools to find 24,000 volunteers aged 16 to 19 to take part in the Be On The TEAM (Teenagers Against Meningitis) trial.

It is led by the Oxford Vaccine Group at the University of Oxford with funding and support from the National Institute for Health Research.

Bacteria often harmlessly carried in the throat of some individuals can sometimes cause meningitis (inflammation of the membranes that surround the brain) and septicaemia (blood poisoning), both of which can be fatal and cause long lasting damage.

The age groups most at risk of meningitis are babies, pre-school children and teenagers. While 13 to 14-year-olds currently receive a vaccine against group A, C, W and Y meningococcus, immunisation against MenB is only targeted at babies as they are at highest risk.

The trial is voluntary and will be conducted through schools in at least 14 towns and cities in England, Scotland and Wales.