Artorius Castus

Superbug succeeds by blowing up defender cells, scientists learn

Posted in Uncategorized by Patrick Truax on November 12, 2007


WASHINGTON (AP) — The aggressive antibiotic-resistant staph infection responsible for thousands of recent illnesses undermines the body’s defenses by causing germ-fighting cells to explode, researchers reported Sunday. Experts say the findings may help lead to better treatments.An estimated 90,000 people in the United States fall ill each year from methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA. It is not clear how many die from the infection; one estimate put it at more than 18,000 per year, which would be slightly higher than the rate of U.S. deaths from AIDS.

The infection long has been associated with health care facilities, where it attacks people with reduced immune systems. But many recent cases involve an aggressive strain, community-associated MRSA, or CA-MRSA. It can cause severe infections and even death in otherwise healthy people outside of health care settings.

The CA-MRSA strain secretes a kind of peptide — a compound formed by amino acids — that causes immune cells called neutrophils to burst, eliminating a main defense against infection, according to researchers.

Update from CNN on this story we posted last month

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