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Scientists discover how potent bacterial toxin kills MRSA bacteria

Researchers believe the finding could lead to the development of new treatments for these superbugs.

Scientists discover how potent bacterial toxin kills MRSA bacteria (Janice Carr/Centres for Disease Control and Prevention)
Scientists discover how potent bacterial toxin kills MRSA bacteria (Janice Carr/Centres for Disease Control and Prevention)

By Nina Massey, PA Science Correspondent

Scientists have cracked the code of how a potent bacterial toxin kills MRSA, potentially paving the way towards new treatments for the superbug.

New research sheds light on how the poison recognises MRSA cell walls and causes the pathogen to break down.

Scientists from the University of Sheffield found lysostaphin is able to increase the number of its molecules bound to the surface of the MRSA cell.

This allows the enzyme to make its way along the cell walls and cause rapid breakdown.

Hospital-acquired infections caused by bacteria resistant to last-resort antibiotics are on the rise, but our work could lead to the development of new treatments for these superbugs Dr Stephane Mesnage

Although lysostaphin has been shown to eradicate Staphylococcal infections, such as MRSA, alone or in combination with antibiotics, not much has been known about how it kills the infections.

Lead researcher, Dr Stephane Mesnage, senior lecturer in molecular biology and biotechnology, said: “Lysostaphin is arguably the most studied enzyme after lysozyme, so we are delighted that our research is able to explain the mechanism underpinning its potent antibacterial activity.

“Our study explains how this enzyme is able to target and digest the MRSA bacteria and why it is so potent.

“Hospital-acquired infections caused by bacteria resistant to last-resort antibiotics are on the rise, but our work could lead to the development of new treatments for these superbugs that use the same targeting mechanism.”

Researchers hope their findings will allow them to develop new treatments for MRSA and other antibiotic resistant superbugs which target the infection in a similar way.

The study is published in the Nature Chemical Biology journal.

PA

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