Science Scope

Researchers discover anti-pathogenic drugs to treat superbugs

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Researchers developed a drug that can treat MRSA without killing the bacteria. This could change the fight against superbugs.

Scientists are desperate to find drugs to fight superbugs like Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA).

The brains of cockroaches seem promising. Also, special surfaces can kill the bacteria upon contact.

But what happens if the infection becomes serious in the body?

Right now, our best line of defense to kill off the bacteria is taking antibiotics. There are only two antibiotics — vancomycin and linezolid — that can fight the infection and they aren't even full proof.

The MRSA infections are becoming a problem as bacteria become resistant to antibiotics. About 20,000 people die from MRSA infections each year.

MRSA produces toxins that are released into the blood and this is what causes sometimes deadly infections.

Case Western Reserve researchers developed an anti-pathogenic drug to treat MRSA . The drug works by blocking MRSA from producing toxins. This way, you can treat MRSA without actually killing the bacteria.

"Staph bacteria are ubiquitous and normally do not cause infections, however, occasionally these bacteria become harmful due to their secretion of toxins," Case Western Reserve's professor Menachem Shoham said in a statement.

The key was preventing a molecule called AgrA from releasing toxins. The professor looked for compounds to inhibit it, so he screened 90,000 compounds. Seven of those worked.

The anti-pathogenic drugs might change they way we fight bacteria in the body. The way we currently treat the infection makes it a prime place for bacteria to want to fight for survival. The side effect of that is the eventual resistance to the drugs. This new type of drug would sidestep that urge and keep the bacteria at bay.

Photo Credit: Janice Haney, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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Boonsri Dickinson

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor Boonsri Dickinson is a freelance journalist based in San Francisco. She has written for Discover, The Huffington Post, Forbes, Nature Biotech, Technewsdaily.com, Techstartups.com and AOL. She's currently a reporter for Business Insider. She holds degrees from the University of Florida and the University of Colorado at Boulder. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure