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News

Catch MRSA infections while they're young

Society For General Microbiology : 17 September, 2002  (Company News)
Laboratory studies showing how communities of MRSA bacteria build up on catheters could lead to improved treatments for hospital acquired infections, according to a paper presented at the Society for General Microbiology autumn meeting at Loughborough University.
Laboratory studies showing how communities of MRSA bacteria build up on catheters could lead to improved treatments for hospital acquired infections, according to a paper presented at the Society for General Microbiology autumn meeting at Loughborough University.

'We've looked at the ability of the superbug MRSA to grow on silastic rubber, the main component of catheters. What we found was that the bacteria form a slimy coating called a biofilm that is very difficult to remove unless a combination of heavy-duty antibiotics is used,' says Dr Steven Jones of Cardiff University.

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus bacteria have an in-built genetic resistance to most antibiotics, but can usually be controlled with vancomycin or rifampicin. However they can also gang up together and form biofilms on catheters or prosthetic joints, which gives them extra protection from these last-resort drugs and even from our immune system.

Dr Jones reports, 'We've noticed that MRSA biofilms were only killed when vancomycin and rifampicin were used in combination. This strategy was effective at rapidly decreasing biofilm coverage and thickness over a 48 hour period.'

'We've also found that the use of these antibiotics singly can be effective against MRSA biofilms if they are given early enough. Younger biofilms that had grown for 8 hours fared worse compared to those that had grown for 24 hours. This work suggests that antibiotics should be given directly after surgery before a biofilm can become properly established,' explains Dr Jones.
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