Thursday, October 14, 2004

Exciting New Finding in Antibiotic Treatment

This report from the BBC indicates that there is a method to boost the succeptibility of an extremrly dangerous bacterium to treatment with standard antibiotics.  Given the risk posed by the problem of antibiotic resistnace, this is great news. 

Hospital superbug treatment hope

MRSA bacterium
The researchers claim the treatment would remove the bug's 'super' status
A way of making the hospital 'superbug' MRSA vulnerable to the antibiotics it normally resists has been discovered, UK researchers say.

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus is so-called because it is immune to the antibiotic methicillin.

But scientists at Worcestershire firm Pharmaceutica found this resistance coud be neutralised by an amino acid called glycine.

Their research is published in New Scientist magazine. [...]

Some strains of the bacterium are also resistant to other antibiotics, including vancomycin, the "last resort" treatment for MRSA.

Methicillin works in the same way as penicillin, by blocking bacterial enzymes called PBPs, which normally strengthen cell walls.

The first strains of Staphylococcus aureus that were resistant to the drug appeared in 1961, just two years after it was first used.

It became resistant by picking up the gene for another PBP enzyme, PBP2a, which methicillin is unable to bind to. [...]
But the concentrations of the glycine compounds had to be extremely high to have this effect.

However, more recent tests by the researchers found a particular glycine compound, BT19976a, makes MRSA susceptible to antibiotics using concentrations regarded as safe.

Many of the antibiotics available to doctors cannot be used against MRSA because the doses needed would be toxic. [...]

The really exciting thing about this is that it represents a  new approach to the problem of antibiotic resistance.