BOSTON (Sept. 6, 2011) The Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary has received an $11 million grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, the largest National Institutes of Health grant in this hospital's187-year history, to coordinate the Harvard-wide Project on Antibiotic Resistance.
The goal of the project, led by Dr. Michael S. Gilmore, Sir William Olser Professor of Ophthalmology, is to develop new antibiotics to treat highly resistant infections caused by staph and other related bacteria. Dr. Gilmore is a part of the Howe Laboratory of Ophthalmology at Mass. Eye and Ear.
"Infections from multidrug-resistant bacteria are leading complications of surgeries, from cataract extractions to knee replacements. Understanding how resistance develops in these strains will help guide the judicious and effective use of antibiotics, and the development of new treatments that will benefit patients and reduce health care spending," said Joan W. Miller, M.D., Henry Willard Williams Professor of Ophthalmology, Chief of Ophthalmology at Mass Eye and Ear and Mass General Hospital, and Chair of Ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School.
Since 2005, drug resistant Staphylococcus aureus has killed more people in the United States than HIV/AIDS, and it has become a leading public health concern. Because resistant staph infections are spread by hand-to-hand contact, workout facilities now provide hand sanitizers and routinely sanitize equipment. An outbreak of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus infection among the St. Louis Rams brought the problem into sharp public focus.
According to Dr. Gilmore, human beings all carry the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus somewhere on their bodies. They prefer moist areas and usually live in the nose, but also occur on the skin, in areas like armpits and groin, and elsewhere in and on the human body. Most of the time these microbes are just eking out a living and not doing any
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