Exciting new treatment strategy could help the body defend against potentially lethal strains of antibiotic-resistant Staph, also known as MRSA.
A collaboration between U.S. and Taiwanese scientists has uncovered a completely new treatment strategy for serious Staphylococcus aureus (“Staph”) infections, according to the UC San Diego News Center. The research comes at a time when strains of antibiotic-resistant Staph (known as MRSA, for methicillin-resistant S. aureus) are spreading in epidemic proportions in both hospital and community settings like nail salons, where it has been linked with at least one death.
The multi-institutional team exploited a chemical pathway that allows the Staph to defend itself against an immune response. The researchers showed that a compound called BPH-652 — originally designed to lower cholesterol — blocks a key enzyme in that pathway, weakening the Staph’s defenses and allowing the body’s immune cells to prevail against the infection.
A golden-colored pigment (“aureus” means golden in Latin) called a carotenoid gives the S. aureus bacterium its edge. The carotenoid acts as an antioxidant for the bacterium, allowing it to evade attack by the body’s immune cells. By crippling production of the carotenoid, the compound strips the Staph of one of its key defenses.
The new findings are particularly promising because BPH-652 has already been explored as a cholesterol-lowering agent in human clinical trials. The existing knowledge of its properties may reduce the cost and time required for development of BPH-652 as an anti-infectious disease therapy, according to the researchers.