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Researchers recommend new approach to combat drug-resistant staph infections

NORTH GRAFTON, MASS., JUNE 24, 2004 - A team of international researchers has shown that coating implanted medical devices with a key peptide known as RIP can prevent the occurrence of bacterial colonization, biofilm formation and consequent drug-resistant Staphylococcus aureus infection - a leading cause of illness and death among hospitalized patients. RIP acts by preventing bacterial cell-to-cell communication, a process known as 'quorum sensing'. This is the first direct demonstration that inhibiting cell-to-cell communication can prevent staphylococcal infections. The discovery is reported in the June 24 on-line version of the Journal of Infectious Diseases, and will be reprinted in the journal's July 15 hard-copy edition.

Staphylococcus aureus causes infections ranging from minor skin abscesses to life-threatening conditions, including pneumonia, meningitis, bone and joint infections (arthritis) and infections of the heart and bloodstream (endocarditis, septicemia, and toxic shock syndrome). Staph. infections are often associated with commonly used implanted medical devices, such as prostheses, catheters and artificial heart valves. Such infections can become tenacious because they are increasingly resistant to antibiotics, rendering them potent causes of illness and death.

"It is critical to find new alternative therapies to antibiotics," said Naomi Balaban, PhD, an author of the study and assistant professor at Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine. "Our findings are significant because about 2 million hospital patients acquire infections each year in the US, including infections associated with implanted medical devices. Of those hospital-acquired infections, 500,000 are caused by Staphylococci, resulting in an annual death rate of approximately 90,000 patients."

Noting, there are currently no new effective treatment plans on the market, Giorgio Dell'Acqua, PhD, an author of the study and scientist from BalaPharm Internati
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Contact: Barbara Donato
barbara.donato@tufts.edu
508-839-7910
Tufts University
24-Jun-2004


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