advertisement
23 April 2012

Gene points to achilles heel in MRSA superbug

Asian outbreaks of a notorious antibiotic-resistant super-germ are being driven by a gene that helps the bug colonise the nostrils and evade the immune defences, scientists said.

0

Asian outbreaks of a notorious antibiotic-resistant super-germ are being driven by a gene that helps the bug colonise the nostrils, lungs and skin and evade the immune defences, scientists said.

So-called methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a major worry for hospitals because of its ability to hole up in wounds, tubes and surgical devices, infecting patients whose immune system is already weak.

MRSA outbreaks happen in waves as new strains of the bacterium take over from older configurations. But how these epidemics become established is a process that genetically has until now been unclear.

Gene is now common

Reporting in the journal Nature Medicine, researchers in the United States and China say they found the key gene, sasX, in samples taken from 807 patients who had been treated for S. aureus in three Chinese hospitals over the past 10 years.

Once extremely rare, sasX became more and more common, nearly doubling in frequency from 21% of samples in 2003 to 39% in 2011, they found.

At present, sasX is prominent in Asian strains of MRSA that have been detected, but it is likely to spread beyond the region, according to the report.

The gene is located in a so-called mobile genetic element, meaning that it is in a segment of DNA that can easily transfer from an old strain to a new one.

However, sasX "is a promising target" for drugs or vaccines, says the study, led by Michael Otto of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).

(Sapa, April 2012) 

Read more:

Places germs love to hide

Antibiotics

 

More:

GeneticsNews
advertisement

Read Health24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Live healthier

PMS, depression & suicide »

Don't let PMS get you down Symptoms of PMS Diagnosing PMS

The link between PMS, depression and suicidal thoughts

The symptoms of premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) are similar to those of PMS, but generally more severe – and could include depression and even thoughts of suicide.

A vegan marathon runner »

Comrades: don't run if you're ill Fuel your body for the Comrades

Running the Comrades Marathon on a vegan diet

Donovan Will, who is training to run the Comrades Marathon, speaks to Health24 about his plant based diet and fears of getting injured ahead of the big race.