New cellular technique could stop MRSA before it starts

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It might be possible to stop super bugs like methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) before they become harmful, new research shows.

Current theory holds that staph infections are caused when a large number of bacteria signal each other to begin emitting toxins, according to researchers with the Jeff Brinker research group. The process, however, actually begins in a single cell, the Brinker group found. One cell releases a certain peptide that switches bacteria from harmless to virulent. By introducing a simple protein—called a lipoprotein—researchers were able to bind that peptide to the cell, stopping the bacteria from becoming harmful.

This new approach could make it easier to treat drug-resistant staph infections before they become life-threatening, researchers say. Also, by treating the infection without antibiotics, good bacteria that live in the stomach and intestines would not be affected. A description of the Brinker group's experiment appears in a recent edition of the journal Nature Chemical Biology.


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