Research NewsMicrobiology

A Possible New Approach to Combating Staph Infections

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Science  17 Apr 1998:
Vol. 280, Issue 5362, pp. 379
DOI: 10.1126/science.280.5362.379

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Roughly one-third of the strains of the dangerous pathogen Staphylococcus aureus currently being isolated from hospital infections are now resistant to all antibiotics but one, vancomycin--and resistance to that antibiotic has begun cropping up. But new research suggests an approach to combating S. aureus, which causes infections ranging from skin abscesses to such life-threatening conditions as pneumonia, septicemia, and toxic shock syndrome, that may sidestep the organism's ability to develop resistance. On page 438, infectious-disease researchers report that they can decrease the incidence and severity of S. aureus infections in mice by blocking the activity of a protein called RAP, which controls the production of toxins and other proteins that make the bacterium pathogenic. Although the work is still in its early stages, it suggests that disabling RAP might keep the microbe from spreading within the body before the patient's immune system flushes it out.