Saturday, 15 October 2011 00:52
The October 13 issue of the Open Access journal PLoS Pathogens reveals that researchers have discovered a toxin called SElX, released by Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) which leads the body's immune system to go into overdrive and damage healthy cells.
The toxins substance, which consists of 95% of Staphylococcus aureus bacteria, makes it a potential drug target to fight the hospital super bug.
SElX, which is part of the superantigen family of toxins, can invoke extreme immune responses. When released, the toxin triggers the immune cells to over-multiply, resulting in high fever, toxic shock and potentially fatal lung infections.
In the study, researchers from the Universities of Edinburgh, Iowa and Mississippi State examined a strain of MRSA known as USA300, which has the potential to cause severe infections in otherwise healthy individuals.
Dr. Ross Fitzgerald, from the Roslin Institute at the University of Edinburgh, explains:
"If we can find ways to target this toxin, we can stop it from triggering an over-reaction of the body's immune system and prevent severe infections."
The study was funded with grants from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and Pfizer Animal Health.
Written by Petra Rattue