Methicillin-resistant Staphyloccocus aureus (MRSA) is a bacterium that is responsible for many hard-to-treat infections. MRSA bacteria are by definition any strain of S. aureas resistant to beta-lactam antibiotics, such as methicillin and dicloxacillin.
Most scientists believe that staph infections are caused by a large number of bacterial cells signaling each other to emit toxins.
The Jeff Brinker research group of Sandia National Laboratory and University of New Mexico has discovered that the process by which a staph infection goes from harmless to virulent occurs in a single cell and can be stopped by by the addition of a single protein.
“The good news is that by inhibiting the single cell’s signaling molecules with a small protein, we were able to suppress any genetic reprogramming into the bacterium’s more virulent form,” said Brinker. “Our work clearly showed the strategy worked.”