Scientists develop new MRSA treatment

A new treatment tested on 3-D tissue engineered skin proved effective against bacterial skin infections including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, and it won't facilitate the development of antibiotic resistance, according to a new study published in PLOSOne.

The treatment works by prohibiting bacteria from attaching to skin cells. When launching an infection, bacteria latch on to the skin by appropriating sticky patches of human cells. Scientists blocked this attachment with peptides from proteins that can be found in human cells called tetraspanins. These peptides functioned as an anti-adhesive, making sticky patches less habitable for bacteria, thereby allowing them to simply be washed away. Because tetraspanins don't directly kill the bacteria, they do not facilitate the evolution of resistance.

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"This development is a huge breakthrough in the fight against antibiotic-resistance," said Pete Monk, PhD, the study's lead author and faculty member at the University of Sheffield's Department of Infection, Immunity and Cardiovascular Disease in the UK. "Skin infections, such as bed sores and ulcers, can be incredibly troubling for patients who may already be dealing with other debilitating conditions... We hope that this new therapy can be used to help relieve the burden of skin infections on both patients and health services while also providing a new insight into how we might defeat the threat of antimicrobial drug resistance."

Researchers suggest clinical trials for the therapy could begin in the next three to five years.

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