Washington: A team of researchers has developed a new approach to treat and eliminate methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, a potent bacterium who is resistance to antibiotics.
A major problem with MRSA is the development of deep-seated chronic infections such as osteomyelitis (bone infection), endocarditis (heart infection), or infections of implanted medical devices. Once established, these infec-tions are often incurable, even when appropriate antibiotics are used.
Bacteria such as MRSA have evolved to actively resist certain antibiotics, a fact that has generated significant interest among the scientific and medical communities.
But Kim Lewis , Director of Northeastern's Antimicrobial Discovery Center, suspected that a different adaptive function of bacteria might be the true culprit in making these infections so devastating.
The new work represents the culmination of more than a decade of research on a specialized class of cells produced by all pathogens called persisters.
According to Lewis, these cells evolved to survive. "Survival is their only function," he said. "They don't do anything else."
Lewis and his research team posited that if they could kill these expert survivors, perhaps they could cure chronic infections-even those resistant to multiple antibiotics such as MRSA.
Lewis' team found that a drug called ADEP effectively wakes up the dormant cells and then initiates a selfdestruct mechanism. The approach completely eradicated MRSA cells in a variety of laboratory experiments and, importantly, in a mouse model of chronic MRSA infection.
The study is published in journal Nature.