In a paper to be presented tomorrow at the Society for General Microbiology (UK’s preeminent microbiological association), results will be presented describing a lysate that yields a 90% reduction of MRSA (Methicillin-resistant [aka multi-drug resistant] Staphylococcus aureus) and E coli populations, without concomitant damage to human cells. MRSA are problems because they are resistant to cephalosporin and beta-lactam antibiotics (conventional treatments).
Simon Lee (postdoc, corresponding author), Ian Duce, Helen Atkins and Naveed Khan (University of Nottingham) lysed the brains and nervous systems of locusts and cockroaches to yield a potent antibacterial, one that exhibited a broad spectrum of antimicrobial activity. They decided to study these insects because they thrive in environments where such microbial populations are rampant; it implied that they had a means to resist the microbes that would be associated with such biota. The nervous systems were examined because once they are affected, the insects die; damage to their peripheral structures do not lead directly to the death of the insects.
A layman may consider a 90% kill to be poor results; however, conventional antibiotic therapy achieves its results by greatly reducing the infection (invading microbial population) and affording the body’s immune system the opportunity to eradicate the rest. It is the reason why antibiotics prescription courses extend over several days. (It is also problematic when many people fail to complete the regimen. This abbreviated schedule affords the microbes an opportunity to either mutate, rendering the antibiotic less effective, or the possibility of augmenting their numbers in the patient, leading to a recurrence of problems.) MRSA is thought to have developed due to antibiotic administration (as part of the feed) to pigs or, perhaps, to the failure to complete antibiotic regimens (10 to 14 day courses) prescribed to people.
While this study is interesting, one must note that there as many as nine compounds that have been found. If these compounds must work in concert, it is unlikely government approval will be afforded. The isolation of each will be required and to be found effective. However, it could lead to new developments in the treatment of MRSA. (MRSA attacks those with open wounds and weakened immune systems; these folks are typically found in hospitals. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) estimates the incidence of infections to be about 4.5 nosocomial infections per 100 admissions.)