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McMaster University researchers figure out how to stop superbugs from launching their potentially fatal attack. By identifying a chemical responsible for the bug's strength, the researchers were able prevent the pathogen from spreading the bacterial infection.
When antibiotics can't kill certain strains of bacteria, the pathogens become more infectious and dangerous. No doubt, these superbugs are worrisome. When the bug attacks, it can eat your flesh and even kill you.
That's extreme, but superbugs are a growing health problem.
Canadian researchers think of bacteria like a computer. McMaster University researchers have figured out how to render Staphylococcus aureus and its drug-resistant forms harmless.
The scientists have identified a chemical that can shut down the bug's CPU.
By stopping the chemical from synthesizing, the researchers figured out how to prevent the superbug from infecting other red blood cells.
According to McMaster University:
"We've found that when these small chemicals in the bacteria are shut down, the bacteria is rendered non-functional and non-infectious," said Nathan Magarvey, principal investigator for the study and an assistant professor of biochemistry and biomedical sciences at McMaster. "We're now set on hacking into this pathogen and making its system crash."
The discovery was published in Science — and is worth noting because it offers a new way to fight this virulent bacteria.
The antibiotic-resistant form of S. aureus is called methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) — and has become a wide-spread problem in hospitals around the world. Each year, there are 19,000 MRSA-associated deaths in the United States alone.
Other strains of MRSA have made their way into the community including the superbug USA300 that has entered athletic locker rooms and community-associated MRSA that is common in places where people share close living quarters.
Before antibiotics were invented in the 1940s, infections used to be the leading cause of death. The scary thing is that now we're moving to a post-antibiotic era. They try drug after drug [to treat resistant bacteria like MRSA], and in some cases there's no antibiotic that works.
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Jun 4, 2010
So probably the best we can do is create the circumstances and conditions to let the immune system do its work, Possibly stimulate our immune system or give it a boost when necessary, if that can be done. It looks to me a good health in general is the first precondition.
MRSA evolved resistance to anti-biotics and there are many other infectious bacteria that have also learned how to survive anti-biotics. Anti-biotics were over prescribed for illnesses such as colds and flus (viruses are not effected by anti-biotics) and also problems with people taking antibiotics until they felt better but not finish the full course of anti-biotics that left a few surviving bacteria to pass on anti-biotic resistance to subsequent generations. Shutting down the bacteria will probably work for a while until the bacteria learns how to work around it. A different treatment would be to introduce other bacteria that would out compete the anti-biotic resistant strains if no anti-biotics are present. Once the resistant infection is controlled then the competing bacteria can be treated with other anti-biotics. Humans have colonies of benign bacteria that help with digestion and perhaps other things. Anti-biotics tend to wipe out all bacteria, benign or malignant with those surviving strains passing on resistance. Humans have immune systems that work to keep the whole system healthy and rally resources to fight infections; the immune system is a product of millenia of "negotiations" between different cells (human and bacteria) that reduce the problems of infections.