Patent on meningitis bug

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AN AMERICAN company has applied to patent one of the bacterias that causes meningitis, it was reported last night.

It could lead to royalties being paid on every treatment if a new vaccine against the illness in found.

Human Genome Sciences has filed the patent, which, if granted will open the door for commercial companies to patent any lifeform from which they think they can make money - including human gene sequences.

Scientists are appalled by the project because they believe discoveries should be shared for the common good.