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Researchers unzip MRSA and discover route for vaccine
Date:1/16/2011

th and financial consequences are severe. Hospital stays can last up to six months. Standard treatment includes removing the MRSA-colonized prosthetic joint replacement, then an extensive washing and draining of the infected area in an attempt to clear out all bacteria before it seeds in nearby tissue and bone. Antibiotic spacers are usually placed near the joint for six to eight weeks.

A second joint replacement is an option only if the antibiotic-spacer treatment is successful and the health of the patient remains stable. However, the re-infection rate is very high (40 to 50 percent) and remains a risk for months or even years after the initial assault. In some cases the patient never fully regains the use of the infected joint, said Regis O'Keefe, chief of Orthopaedics at URMC and an expert in the treatment of MRSA.

"It's essential that we have mechanisms in place to prevent this awful infection," O'Keefe said. "We are very excited about our vaccine research. It'll have a phenomenal impact on individuals locally and across the country if we are successful."

Breaking the Zipper

Schwarz, Varrone, and colleagues hypothesized that the best way to attack staph aureus was to target the glucosaminidase (Gmd) protein contained in the deadly bug. Gmd is known to act as a zipper on the bacteria, opening the impenetrable armor (cell wall) during cell division. In the absence of Gmd, staph aureus cannot replicate efficiently, dramatically reducing its ability to cause infections. Thus, if they could find an agent that inhibits bacterial growth and prevents the cell wall from closing during binary fission, Schwarz reasoned, perhaps the bacteria itself could be destroyed.

The abstract presented at ORS describes two key findings. First, the Schwarz lab discovered four anti-Gmd monoclonal antibodies that disrupt the growth of MRSA bacteria in cell cultures, by breaking the zipper and preventing cell division. The team also demonstr
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Contact: Leslie Orr
Leslie_Orr@urmc.rochester.edu
585-275-5774
University of Rochester Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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