Drug-Resistant Golden Staph Breakthrough Tested By Volunteer Australian Doctors

21/10/2015 1:05 PM AEDT | Updated 15/07/2016 12:50 PM AEST
BSIP via Getty Images
Methicillin Resistant Golden Staph Staphylococcus Aureus Mrsa, Scanning Electron Micrograph Colorized Sem, X 9560, The Line Represents Two Microns. These Bacteria Are Gram Positive Cocci And Facultative Anaerobes That Typically Gather In Clusters, As We See It Here. Golden Staph Is Responsible For Food Poisoning, Cutaneous Infections, Pneumonia, Toxic Shock Syndrome, . . . The Mrsa Is One Of The Most Frequent Multiresistant Bacterial Strains In Healthcare Facilities Hospital Acquired Infections. Golden Staph Staphylococcus Aureus > Staphylococcus > Staphylococcaceae > Bacillales > Firmicutes > Bacterium. This 2005 Scanning Electron Micrograph Sem Depicted Numerous Clumps Of Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus Bacteria, Commonly Referred To By The Acronym, Mrsa; Magnified 9560X. Recently Recognized Outbreaks, Or Clusters Of Mrsa In Community Settings Have Been Associated With Strains That Have Some Unique Microbiologic And Genetic Properties, Compared With The Traditional Hospital Based Mrsa Strains, Which Suggests Some Biologic Properties, E. G. , Virulence Factors Like Toxins, May Allow The Community Strains To Spread More Easily, Or Cause More Skin Disease. A Common Strain Named Usa300 0114 Has Caused Many Such Outbreaks In The United States. Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus Infections, E. G. , Bloodstream, Pneumonia, Bone Infections, Occur Most Frequently Among Persons In Hospitals And Healthcare Facilities, Including Nursing Homes, And Dialysis Centers. Those Who Acquire A Mrsa Infection Usually Have A Weakened Immune System, However, The Manifestation Of Mrsa Infections That Are Acquired By Otherwise Healthy Individuals, Who Have Not Been Recently Hospitalized, Or Had A Medical Procedure Such As Dialysis, Or Surgery, First Began To Emerged In The Mid To Late 1990's. These Infections In The Community Are Usually Manifested As Minor Skin Infectio (Photo By BSIP/UIG Via Getty Images)

When strains of the potentially deadly golden staph bacteria stopped responding to antibiotics in the 1960s, doctors scrambled to find a solution.

Fast forward to today and the treatment for people infected with antibiotic-resistant golden staph has not advanced. Once the infection reaches the bloodstream, one in three Australians will die, while in other countries, it's closer to 50 percent.

A study into a promising new combination of anitibiotics has been released not by a global pharmaceutical company or a government, but from volunteers in a handful of Australian hospitals.

Without much financial backing, Australian doctors, microbiologists and infectious disease experts got together to investigate the new antibiotic combination -- with hope it could rewrite the book on staph treatment.

Westmead Hospital infectious disease specialist Dr Matthew O’Sullivan said volunteers were compelled to undertake the study.

"It happened pretty much by the goodwill of the team in various hospitals around the country," O'Sullivan said.

"It's an infection that is often picked up by people in hospitals and the fact that we don't really have a very effective treatment for it is frustrating.

"We pretty much got together and said we have to find a better treatment."

The pilot study found the new combination cut down the time the infection survived in the bloodstream by 35 percent. The possibility of decreasing the mortality rate has led to a wider study being funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council.

O’Sullivan said it could rewrite the book on treating this common infection.

“I would envisage that if the study goes as expected, it will change the way people are treated with this infection all around the world,” O’Sullivan said.

As for the actual drug combination, Menzies School of Health Research Global and Tropical Health doctor Joshua Davis said it simply should not work.

“Standard treatment for drug-resistant golden staph infection involves using a drug called vancomycin, which is not all that powerful against the MRSA strain,” Dr Davis said in a statement.

“In a new approach, we are re-purposing an old, inexpensive drug for new, antibiotic-resistant pathogens.

“In this case, we have added a penicillin-like beta-lactam drug to vancomycin; our study revealed that when vancomycin and a beta-lactam are combined, they work together."

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