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Bacteria glue points to superbug vaccine


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(Reuters) - A sticky glue secreted by drug-resistant bacteria could help scientists develop an effective vaccine against "superbugs", U.S. researchers told a conference on Wednesday.

The sticky substance is a complex sugar called PNAG which the researchers said was a promising vaccine target because animal studies have shown it produces a protective immune response when manipulated chemically.

The bacteria produces the substance when growing a biofilm that protects them from antibiotics, Gerald Pier of Harvard Medical School told the Society for General Microbiology's meeting in Dublin.

"We are targeting this material as a possible vaccine, but natural exposure to the sugar compound does not result in most people and animals making an immune response that would protect them from attack by the bacteria or recurring infections," he said in a statement.

Methicillin-resistant Staphyloccus aureus, or MRSA, infections can range from boils to more severe infections of the bloodstream, lungs and surgical sites. Most cases are spread in hospitals, nursing homes or other health care facilities.

MRSA is a growing problem worldwide and can cause life-threatening and disfiguring infections and can often only be treated with expensive, intravenous antibiotics.

Because the chemically altered forms of the sugar have produced the right kind of immune response in animals, the researchers hope tests in humans will show which of the different variants is most effective, Pier added.

"The antibody is being manufactured to start tests in humans in about 12 to 18 months," Pier said. "An effective antibody treatment for Staph infections could have a major benefit for anyone who enters a hospital or works in the community and is at risk."

Πηγή:Reuters Health

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