Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Researchers discover new treatment to cure the MRSA ‘superbug’

14.11.2013
Recent work from Uni­ver­sity Dis­tin­guished Pro­fessor of Biology Kim Lewis promises to over­come one of the leading public health threats of our time.

In a ground­breaking study pub­lished Wednesday in the journal Nature, Lewis’ team presents a novel approach to treat and elim­i­nate methi­cillin resis­tant staphy­lo­coccus aureus, or MRSA, a potent bac­terium whose resis­tance to antibi­otics has kept it one step ahead of researchers. That is, until now.

The so-​​called “superbug” infects 1 mil­lion Amer­i­cans each year. A major problem with MRSA is the devel­op­ment of deep-​​seated chronic infec­tions such as osteomyelitis (bone infec­tion), endo­carditis (heart infec­tion), or infec­tions of implanted med­ical devices. Once estab­lished, these infec­tions are often incur­able, even when appro­priate antibi­otics are used.

Bac­teria such as MRSA have evolved to actively resist cer­tain antibi­otics, a fact that has gen­er­ated sig­nif­i­cant interest among the sci­en­tific and med­ical com­mu­ni­ties. But Lewis, Director of Northeastern’s Antimi­cro­bial Dis­covery Center, sus­pected that a dif­ferent adap­tive func­tion of bac­teria might be the true cul­prit in making these infec­tions so devastating.

The new work rep­re­sents the cul­mi­na­tion of more than a decade of research on a spe­cial­ized class of cells pro­duced by all pathogens called per­sis­ters. According to Lewis, these cells evolved to sur­vive. “Sur­vival is their only func­tion,” he said. “They don’t do any­thing else.”

Lewis and his research team posited that if they could kill these expert sur­vivors, per­haps they could cure chronic infections—even those resis­tant to mul­tiple antibi­otics such as MRSA. Fur­ther­more, said Brian Conlon, a post­doc­toral researcher in Lewis’ lab and first author on the paper, “if you can erad­i­cate the per­sis­ters, there’s less of a chance that resis­tance will develop at all.”

Lewis, who was elected to the Amer­ican Academy of Micro­bi­ology in 2011 for his schol­ar­ship in the field, has found that per­sis­ters achieve their sin­gular goal by entering a dor­mant state that makes them imper­vious to tra­di­tional antibi­otics. Since these drugs work by tar­geting active cel­lular func­tions, they are use­less against dor­mant per­sis­ters, which aren’t active at all. For this reason, per­sis­ters are crit­ical to the suc­cess of chronic infec­tions and biofilms, because as soon as a treat­ment runs its course, their reawak­ening allows for the infec­tion to estab­lish itself anew.

In the recent study, which also includes con­tri­bu­tions from assis­tant pro­fessor Steve Leonard of the Depart­ment of Phar­macy Prac­tice, Lewis’ team found that a drug called ADEP effec­tively wakes up the dor­mant cells and then ini­ti­ates a self-​​destruct mech­a­nism. The approach com­pletely erad­i­cated MRSA cells in a variety of lab­o­ra­tory exper­i­ments and, impor­tantly, in a mouse model of chronic MRSA infection.

Cou­pling ADEP with a tra­di­tional antibi­otic, Conlon noted, allowed the team to com­pletely destroy the bac­te­rial pop­u­la­tion without leaving any survivors.

As with all other antibi­otics, actively growing bac­te­rial cells will likely develop resis­tance to ADEP. How­ever, Lewis said, “cells that develop ADEP resis­tance become rather wimpy.” That is, other tra­di­tional drugs such as rifampicin or line­zolid work well against ADEP-​​resistant cells, pro­viding a unique cock­tail that not only kills per­sis­ters but also elim­i­nates ADEP-​​resistant mutant bacteria.

Dr. Richard Novick of New York University’s Lan­gone Med­ical Center and a leader in the field said the research is a “bril­liant out­growth of Kim Lewis’ pio­neering work on bac­te­rial per­sis­ters and rep­re­sents a highly cre­ative ini­tia­tive in this era of dimin­ishing antibi­otic utility.”

While ADEP tar­gets MRSA, Lewis’ team believes sim­ilar com­pounds will be useful for treating other infec­tions as well as any other dis­ease model that can only be over­come by elim­i­nating a pop­u­la­tion of rogue cells, including can­cerous tumors. They are pur­suing sev­eral already.

This entry was posted in Science & Technology and tagged antibiotic-resistance, biology, chronic infection, College of Science, microbiology, MRSA, persister cells, research.

Kara Shemin | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.neu.edu

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Satellites, airport visibility readings shed light on troops' exposure to air pollution
09.12.2016 | Veterans Affairs Research Communications

nachricht Oxygen can wake up dormant bacteria for antibiotic attacks
08.12.2016 | Penn State

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Electron highway inside crystal

Physicists of the University of Würzburg have made an astonishing discovery in a specific type of topological insulators. The effect is due to the structure of the materials used. The researchers have now published their work in the journal Science.

Topological insulators are currently the hot topic in physics according to the newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Only a few weeks ago, their importance was...

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Researchers identify potentially druggable mutant p53 proteins that promote cancer growth

09.12.2016 | Life Sciences

Scientists produce a new roadmap for guiding development & conservation in the Amazon

09.12.2016 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

Satellites, airport visibility readings shed light on troops' exposure to air pollution

09.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>