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Treatment for S. aureus skin infection works in mouse model
Date:8/31/2010

Scientists from the National Institutes of Health and University of Chicago have found a promising treatment method that in laboratory mice reduces the severity of skin and soft-tissue damage caused by USA300, the leading cause of community-associated Staphylococcus aureus infections in the United States. By neutralizing a key toxin associated with the bacteria, they found they could greatly reduce the damaging effects of the infection on skin and soft tissue. Community strains of S. aureus cause infection in otherwise healthy people and are considered extremely virulent, as opposed to hospital strains that infect people who already are weakened by illness or surgery.

While much recent attention has been focused on deaths caused by S. aureus infection in the bloodstreamand those caused by methicillin-resistant S. aureus in particularthe Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that in 2005, physicians treated 14 million non-lethal S. aureus skin and softtissue cases in the United States.

In their study, now online in The Journal of Infectious Diseases, scientists from NIH's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) examined the effects of the bacterial toxin alpha-hemolysin, or Hla, on S. aureus skin infections in laboratory mice. In all aspects of the study where the Hla toxin was either removed from S. aureus bacteria or neutralized through immunization, skin abscesses were significantly smaller, mice recovered faster and there was little or no skin destruction.

When S. aureus secretes Hla during infection in humans, the toxin pokes holes in a variety of different host cells, killing them. Scientists who have studied Hla for years have mainly focused on neutralizing the toxin in cases of pneumonia-related S. aureus infection. Until now, no one had tested how the absence of Hla would affect the severity of USA300 skin infections a
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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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