Step taken in fighting staph infections

IOWA CITY, Iowa (UPI) — U.S. scientists say they have succeeded in killing established biofilms of Staphylococcus aureus by using one of the bacteria’s own regulatory systems. Although the discovery isn’t ready for clinical application, University of Iowa researchers said their findings offer insight into a dispersal mechanism for staph biofilms and might help identify therapeutic targets.

Biofilms are communities of bacteria that grow on moist surfaces, including heart valves, bone and medical implants, the scientists said. Highly resistant to antibiotic therapy, biofilm infections represent a tough and dangerous medical problem.

“We have shown that activating the cells’ communication system, also known as quorum sensing, in established biofilms causes the biofilms to disperse rapidly,” said Assistant Professor Alexander Horswill.

“This is the first report of an existing dispersal pathway in Staph aureus. If we can tap into this mechanism, then that might lead to better treatments.” The findings were published in the April 25 issue of the journal PL0S Pathogens.

Copyright 2008 by United Press International
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