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Developing kryptonite for Superbug
Date:11/8/2007

MOSCOW/POST FALLS, Idaho University of Idaho researchers are crossing academic and geographical bounds to develop more effective defenses against Staphylococcus aureus bacteria and other deadly pathogens.

One of the goals of that effort is to create much faster and more accurate identification of strains resistant to the antibiotic methicillin, formally known as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA.

Breakthrough detection technologies are already in hand in University of Idaho labs. Nanoelectronic biosensors at the universitys Center for Advanced Microelectronics and Biomolecular Research (CAMBR) recently have cut detection time for staph from the industry standard of up to three days down to three hours.

Researchers now are focused on tweaking the device so that it can provide a complete toxin profile of staph that will quickly reveal the virulence of infections. To accomplish that goal, researchers from the universitys Center of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) are partnering with CAMBR scientists.

Eventually, it is hoped that even the hard-to-identify MRSA bacteria will be detected quickly using some iteration of the nanotechnology.

MRSAs resistance to antibiotics has earned it superbug status. It is responsible for more 94,000 infections and 16,000 deaths annually in the U.S. alone, according to recent Center for Disease Control reports. Those numbers indicate it is a greater health threat to Americans than the AIDS virus.

The spiking MRSA death toll recently reported by the Center for Disease Control presents formidable motivation to move infectious disease research ahead, and to get life saving nanotechnologies into the marketplace. University of Idaho scientists are focused on both goals.

The CAMBR Biosensor The vast majority of hospitals, including all regional facilities in Coeur dAlene, Idaho, and Spokane, Wash., still culture staph in Petri dishes. The culture
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Contact: Joni Kirk
joni@uidaho.edu
208-885-7725
University of Idaho
Source:Eurekalert

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