Swedish researchers looking for ways to treat several illnesses have come up with rationale for a new type of antibiotic to fight methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). They hope their discovery will eventually lead to better treatment of illnesses like stomach ulcers and tuberculosis.
According to Medical News Today, MRSA is rapidly becoming resistant to current broad spectrum antibiotics, which attack bacteria by interfering with the construction of their cell walls. This approach has been in use since the start of the 20th century.
MRSA is a type of staph bacteria resistant to antibiotics such as methicillin, oxacillin, penicillin, and amoxicillin, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states. One of its favorite places is healthcare settings. The infection, primarily spread by human hands, can cause serious and sometimes life-threatening complications like pneumonia or infections in the bloodstream or at surgical sites.
The prognosis for a MRSA patient depends on infection severity and overall health, according to PubMed Health. Pneumonia and blood infections from MRSA carry high death rates.
The CDC reports that in 2005, U.S. facilities experienced an estimated 478,000 hospitalizations with an S. aureus infection. Around 278,000 were linked to MRSA. During the prior year, 29 percent of the U.S. population had colonies of the bacteria in the nose. Around 2.5 percent of the population (4.1 million people) had colonies with MRSA. However, in 2010, a CDC study showed a decline in life-threatening MRSA infections in healthcare settings.
The Swedish scientists, from the Karolinska Institutet, have proposed a new antibiotic mechanism based on preventing the growth of certain bacteria by blocking the thioredoxin system in cells. This system is in all cells and is crucial to producing DNA. It also protects cells from oxidative stress, which can damage or kill a cell and occurs when white blood cells attack bacteria.
Backing up the thioredoxin system is a cellular biochemical process involving the enzyme glutaredoxin. Since MRSA bacteria lack a glutaredoxin system, they're vulnerable to treatment that inhibits substances in the thioredoxin system.
The researchers experimented with the drug ebselen, previously tested to treat strokes and inflammation. They found that it and similar synthetic substances inhibited the thioredoxin system in bacteria. They also discovered that MRSA and antibiotic-resistant tuberculosis were both susceptible to ebselen and the synthetic substances. Since ebselen is also an antioxidant, it protects a host against oxidative stress.
For years, MRSA has been a big concern of the doctors who treat me. Because I take immunosuppressants to treat Crohn's disease, I have significantly lowered immunity and must avoid hospitals and other "germy" places. I currently have three surgeries on hold due to the danger of contracting staph or another bug in the hospital. When eventually developed, a new type of antibiotic to fight MRSA could change medical treatment for thousands with immunity issues.
Vonda J. Sines has published thousands of print and online health and medical articles. She specializes in diseases and other conditions that affect the quality of life.
- Disease & Medical Conditions