MRSA: Bacteriophages Being Used to Combat Antiboitic Resistant Infection

First Posted: Sep 14, 2015 02:26 PM EDT

Jacob Hatch, a senior molecular biology student at Brigham Young University, and Bradford Berges, a assistant professor of micro- and molecular biology, have unlocked a new method to tackling a deadly bacterial infection known as MRSA, according to EurekAlert!.

MRSA, pronounced MER-suh, is a bacterial infection that carries extreme effects, and can result in amputations and even death.

Hatch and Berges have used bacteriophages to seek and destroy MRSA within the body. Phages are viruses that are used to infect and kill bacteria. They've been used successfully to save beehives from a deadly disease called American Foulbrood, according to BYU News.

In the study, published by PLOS ONE, Hatch demostrated the phages attacking human MRSA on fabrics and hard surfaces, with extremely positive results. In the demonstration, a lab coat and a glass tabletop where used as surfaces. 

"While phages kill off bacteria, they will never cause any problems to humans because it's a virus that's evolved to infect bacteria cells," Berges said. "It's never going to infect human cells - it's not even a possibility." 

The study's discovery about the effectiveness against MRSA are immensely important, as MRSA is now resistant to almost all available antibiotics. Doctors are extremely worried that vancomycin, the only remaining treatment for MRSA, may eventually fall victim to resistance as well, according to ABC.

People infected by MRSA face serious health risks in addition to a chance of death, including sepsis, pneumonia, and meningitis. Fortunately, Berges and Hatch's research is showing that phages kill more than 99 percent of MRSA pathogens. 

For Hatch, it's an extremely personal discovery, as a MRSA infection robbed his father of his leg, the infection getting bad enough to call for an emergency amputation. Now, Hatch can exact his revenge on the deadly bacteria.

"This research is my way of coping with it and feeling like I've been able to do something to solve these type of problems," Hatch said. "It's been so rewarding to see that it is working." 

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