Researchers Discover how Staphylococcus Aureus, Colonizing the Human Nose, Spreads MRSA

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Home / Researchers Discover how Staphylococcus Aureus, Colonizing the Human Nose, Spreads MRSA
MRSA bacteria can cause fatal infections. Image courtesy of Keith Gregg - Curtin University

MRSA bacteria can cause fatal infections. Image courtesy of Keith Gregg – Curtin University

Finding New Antibiotic Treatments

Assistant Professor Rachel McLoughlin and Professor Tim Foster, the study’s corresponding authors, concluded: “Loricrin is a major determinant of S. aureus nasal colonisation. This discovery opens new avenues for developing therapeutic strategies to reduce the burden of nasal carriage and consequently infections with this bacterium. This is particularly important given the difficulties associated with treating MRSA infections.”

Dr. McLoughlin told Decoded Science how this research could reduce the incidence of MRSA in hospitals, where postoperative patients are particularly vulnerable: “Nasal colonisation with S. aureus has been identified as a clear risk factor for subsequent invasive infection. If someone goes into hospital for surgery and they are already carrying S. aureus in their noses, then, they are at an increased risk of getting an infection, e.g in their surgical wound, with the same strain they harbor in their noses. S. aureus is transferred through skin-to-skin contact. By identifying a mechanism to irradiate S.aureus from the noses this could be used to decolonize patients before they go into hospital.”

Antibiotic-Resistant MRSA

Dr. McLoughlin reiterated that MRSA is a specific antibiotic resistant strain of S. aureus, and only “a very small % of the general population are actually colonised with MRSA in their noses.” But she cautioned, “any infection with S. aureus had the potential to mutate into an MRSA strain particularly in the hospital setting where there is selective pressure from high use of antibiotics.” In any case, this research has the potential to reduce antibiotic-resistant staph infections in a hospital setting, which could could save many lives over time.

References

Mulcahy, Michelle E., et al. Nasal Colonisation by Staphylococcus aureus Depends upon Clumping Factor B Binding to the Squamous Epithelial Cell Envelope Protein Loricrin. (2012). PLoS Pathogens. doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1003092. Accessed February 22, 2013.

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