Researchers closer to the super bug puzzle

November 11, 2011

Infectious diseases specialists from Austin Health are working closely with Microbiologists from the University of Melbourne to understand how Staph is becoming resistant to all antibiotic therapies.

The treatment of serious infections caused by (Golden Staph) is complicated by the development of . Seriously ill patients, vulnerable to infections can be at additional risk if antimicrobial agents become less effective in fighting infections.

Published today in the journal , a new piece has been added to the puzzle, making the picture clearer. By using whole genome DNA sequencing of strains obtained from patients during persistent blood stream infections, Dr Timothy Stinear and Associate Professor Ben Howden, senior research fellows from the Department of Microbiology and Immunology have discovered how Staph can make one small change to its DNA and then develop resistance to the last-line antibiotic, vancomycin.

"We have applied the latest genome sequencing technology to show that Staph can readily become (antibiotic) resistant by acquiring a single mutation in its DNA. When the bacteria mutate, they are reprogramming themselves, changing their cell walls to resist the action of our antibiotics" said Dr Stinear.

Associate Professor Howden, who is also the head of Microbiology at Austin Health, is concerned by the implications of this discovery for patients. "Worryingly, this mutation also makes Staph more resistant to another last-line antibiotic, daptomycin, even though this drug had never been used for treatment. These last-line therapies are more toxic and cause additional side-effects in already compromised patients." Associate Professor Howden said.

"This study highlights the high adaptability of Staph in the face of antimicrobial treatment and suggests we need to improve the way in which we use antibiotics to treat serious bacterial infections." he said.

Explore further: Nationwide study finds US meat and poultry is widely contaminated

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Researchers discover how West Nile virus triggers memory loss

June 22, 2016

Researchers at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus have discovered how the most severe forms of West Nile virus cause memory loss and mood disorders, opening the door to potential new treatments for the mosquito-borne ...

Faster detection of pathogens in the lungs

June 24, 2016

What used to take several weeks is now possible in two days: Thanks to new molecular-based methods, mycobacterial pathogens that cause pulmonary infections or tuberculosis can now be detected much more quickly. Time-consuming ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.