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MRSA Vaccine Provides Fresh Hope For Widespread Immunity

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American scientists have developed a vaccine that can prevent bacterial infection that leads to the MRSA superbug.

Researchers from the University of Rochester in New York decided to create a vaccine for methicillin resistant staph (MRSA) after discovering the rise in MRSA-infected implants in joint replacement patients.

The team, led by professor of Orthopaedics from the Musculoskeletal Research, created an antibody that prevents MRSA bacteria from dividing properly.

Researchers tested the antibody vaccine prior to the implantation of an MRSA-infected pin to stimulate an infected joint replacement. They monitored the bacterial growth and discovered that the vaccine protected 50% of the implanted pin.

Based on these findings, the vaccine immunisation is a positive development towards creating widespread vaccination for all types of MRSA-related infections.

Talking about how the superbug becomes infectious, Dr Edward Schwarz describes it as having an “ironclad cell wall”.

"What makes the staph such a challenging pathogen is that it has an ironclad cell wall. But this is also its Achilles' heel," Dr Schwarz explains in a statement.

If the cell wants to divide, it has to "unzip the cell wall" to break into two "daughter cells", explains Dr Schwarz.

The team produced the antibody vaccine so that it targeted a component of the "zipper", preventing normal bacterial cell division by causing them to form a cluster of cells instead.

MRSA is a type of bacteria, which is resistant to antibiotic methicillin and other related treatments of the penicillin class. MRSA is a big problem in hospitals as the bacteria can be spread from patient to patient from colonised areas to open wounds.

MRSA can be a serious, and sometimes fatal, infection. MRSA-related deaths are more common among elderly or those with weak immune systems. MRSA is difficult to treat due to the bacteria’s resistance to antibiotics.

According to the Office for National Statistics, around 485 people have died from MRSA in the UK. However, 2,704 deaths in 2010 closely linked to the cause of death, a decrease from 8,324 in 2007.

The NHS Choices provide guidelines on how to avoid MRSA in hospitals if you're a patient, visitor or hospital employee. Visit the MRSA Action UK for full details on MRSA and what to do if you get it.