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Key to MRSA Virulence in Community Discovered
Date:11/12/2007

r case, the mechanism would detect that situation and begin production of the peptides in earnest to fight back against the immune system.

"From the bacterial point of view, the most important thing is to get rid of the neutrophil," Otto said.

According to Moran, these findings suggest new drug possibilities -- antibodies that can remove the peptides from circulation, for instance.

"Any time we can better understand the basic physiology of how infections get around the immune system, it gives a potential target for treatment," he said.

However, Tierno emphasized that focusing exclusively on these peptides would be a mistake, as they represent just one of many mechanisms by which virulent MRSA can harm their hosts; these strains also express toxins that can overwhelm the body in other ways.

"All of these work together to make the organism so deadly," Tierno said. "There is a synergy without question that accounts for a big problem with these organisms."

More information

For more on community-associated MRSA, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.



SOURCES: Michael Otto, Ph.D., senior investigator, Rocky Mountain Laboratories, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Hamilton, Mont.; Gregory Moran, M.D., professor, Medicine, Department of Emergency Medicine & Infectious Diseases, Olive View-UCLA Medical Center; Philip Tierno, Ph.D., director, clinical microbiology & immunology, and associate professor, microbiology & pathology, New York University Medical Center, and author, The Secret Life of Germs: Observations and Lessons From a Microbe Hunter; Nov. 11, 2007, Nature Medicine online


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