Immunization for MRSA on the horizon

February 14, 2012

Methicillin resistant staph aureus (MRSA) infections are resistant to antibiotics and can cause a myriad of problems -- bone erosion, or osteomyelitis, which shorten the effective life of an implant and greatly hinder replacement of that implant. MRSA can result in prolonged disability, amputation and even death.

Although only 2 percent of the American population that undergo total joint replacement surgery will suffer an infection, half of those infections are from MRSA. The results of a MRSA infection after a total joint replacement can be devastating. Currently, there is no effective treatment for MRSA-infected implants. With the increasing incidence of total joint replacement surgeries, the prevalence of MRSA-infected implants is expected to rise.

A team of investigators from the University of Rochester Medical Center has developed a vaccine that can prevent of . Their findings were presented at the Orthopaedic Research Society (ORS) 2012 Annual Meeting in San Francisco, California.

The team, led by Edward Schwarz, PhD, Professor of Orthopaedics and Associate Director of the Center for Musculoskeletal Research, has generated an antibody that prevents MRSA bacteria from dividing properly.

"What makes the staph such a challenging pathogen is that is has an ironclad cell wall. But that is also its Achilles' heel," Dr. Schwarz said. He explained that if the cell wants to divide, it has to "unzip the cell wall" to break into two "." Their team produced an antibody that targets a component of the zipper, Gmd—preventing normal bacterial cell division by causing them to form clusters of cells.

The researchers tested the antibody prior to implantation of a MRSA-infected pin to simulate an infected . They monitored bacterial growth and found that their antibody protected 50 percent of their sample from infection. Further analysis found that the antibody prevented formation of sequestrum, or a piece of dead bone, which is a hallmark of osteomyelitis. Additionally, immunization led to decreased bacterial presence on the pins themselves.

Based on these findings, this immunization appears to be a promising treatment to prevent the /reinfection of orthopaedic implants.

Dr. Schwarz and his team were recently awarded a five-year multimillion dollar grant from AOTrauma, a not for profit Swiss foundation, for the Clinical Priority Program grant on infection. This grant deals with the diagnosis, treatment, prevention, and education about musculoskeletal infection.

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Monkeys in Asia harbor virus from humans, other species

November 19, 2015

When it comes to spreading viruses, bats are thought to be among the worst. Now a new study of nearly 900 nonhuman primates in Bangladesh and Cambodia shows that macaques harbor more diverse astroviruses, which can cause ...

One-step test for hepatitis C virus infection developed

November 14, 2015

UC Irvine Health researchers have developed a cost-effective one-step test that screens, detects and confirms hepatitis C virus (HCV) infections. Dr. Ke-Qin Hu, director of hepatology services, will present findings at the ...


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.