New Treatment Promises to Cure MRSA

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StaphThe bacterium staphylococcus aureus, commonly referred to as MRSA, has been deemed a “superbug” because of its resistance to antibiotics. Affecting 1 million Americans every year, MRSA causes serious infections of the bone, heart, and implanted medical devices. Due to the inability of the bacterium to be effectively treated and the seriousness of the deep-seated chronic infections it causes, MRSA has become one of the most serious health threats around today. Accounting for over 20,000 deaths in the US annually, MRSA has managed to stay one step ahead of scientists — until now.

An article published in the science journal Nature, and reported in Science Daily news, states that Distinguished Professor of Biology, Kim Lewis, from Northeastern University, where he also serves as Director of the Antimicrobial Discovery Center, worked with his team using a novel approach to beating the bug. Lewis believed that there might be a different adaptive function of the bacteria that was causing the resulting infections to be so devastating.

The team started their research with the idea that killing these persistent survivors might allow them to cure the chronic infections they caused, in spite of their antibiotic resistance. Lewis says that persisters accomplish their goal at survival by entering a dormant state, making them impervious to traditional antibiotics, which normally work by targeting active cellular functions. Therefore, persisters are not affected by the drugs.

The study conducted by Lewis centered on the use of a drug called ADEP. This drug “wakes up” dormant cells and initiates a self-destruct mechanism. The results of the study showed that the use of ADEP can completely eradicate the MRSA cells, including those in a MRSA-infected mouse. Using ADEP, along with a traditional antibiotic, will destroy the entire bacterial population, without leaving any survivors behind. In addition to providing an effective treatment for chronic MRSA infections, this approach also eliminates the potential for ADEP-resistant mutant bacteria.

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