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Factor key to severity of community-associated methicillin-resistant staph infections identified
Date:11/11/2007

Newly described proteins in drug-resistant strains of the Staphylococcus aureus bacterium attract and then destroy protective human white blood cellsa key process ensuring that S. aureus survives and causes severe disease, according to scientists at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health.

S. aureus disease is a global public health concern because some strains, including community-associated methicillin resistant S. aureus (CA-MRSA), have developed resistance to existing antibiotics. The NIAID scientists hope to use this finding to advance development of new therapeutic treatments.

In a study published online in Nature Medicine, Michael Otto, Ph.D., and his colleagues at NIAIDs Rocky Mountain Laboratories (RML) describe how novel members of the phenol-soluble modulin (PSM) protein family help determine disease severity and eliminate immune defense mechanisms against CA-MRSA.

This elegant work helps reveal the complex strategy that S. aureus has developed to evade our normal immune defenses, says Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., NIAID director. Understanding what makes the infections caused by these new strains so severe and developing new drugs to treat them are urgent public health priorities.

Up until a year ago, most scientists studying S. aureus believed they had narrowed their search for the cause of severe CA-MRSA infections, focusing on the Panton-Valentine leukocidin (PVL) toxin produced by certain strains. But then last year, Dr. Otto and his RML colleagues published a study indicating that PVL does not play a major role in CA-MRSA infections (http://www3.niaid.nih.gov/news/newsreleases/2006/staphtoxin.htm).

Given the scope of the problem in the United States, Dr. Ottos group continued its search to understand why the CA-MRSA strains cause widespread and often severe inf
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Contact: Ken Pekoc
kpekoc@niaid.nih.gov
301-402-1663
NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
Source:Eurekalert

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