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

Get a quote

advertisement

Read Health24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Live healthier

Knee pain relief »

Knee injuries Test your knee pain knowledge Symptoms of knee pain

Do you suffer from knee pain?

Do you suffer from recurrent knee pain? It could be osteoarthritis...

Vitamin wise »

Vitamins for HIV What to eat for vitamin B? Cut down on vitamins

Get your vitamins right

Find out which vitamin to use for which condition. Ask our Vitamin expert.