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Nose bacteria to the rescue
August 14, 2016, 4:10 pm

Some forms of bacteria present in our nose could prove our greatest ally in the fight against antibiotic resistant bacteria or the so-called superbugs, such as Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) which is a bacterium responsible for several difficult-to-treat infections in humans.

Researchers have recently discovered a bacteria dwelling in the human nose which produces an antibiotic that kills antibiotic-resistant superbugs, including MRSA.

The study shows that microorganisms living on and within us could be an important source for new antibiotics, desperately needed as infectious bacteria become resistant to our current antibiotic drugs.

Researchers found that the bacterium Staphylococcus lugdunesis, found in nose swabs of some of the participants in the study, produced an antibiotic called lugdunin that stopped the growth of a slew of infectious bacteria.

The nose is relatively resource-poor for bacteria, compared to other ecological niches of the human body such as the intestine or stomach. Bacteria trying to colonize the nose are in strong competition with each other for resources. S. lugdunesis likely evolved the ability to produce lugdunin because it kills off competition from other nose-dwelling bacteria, such as S. aureus.

About 30 percent of people have S. aureus clandestinely inhabiting their noses, but the bacteria can spread as infections, especially in hospitals, among people with open wounds and immune deficiencies. The antibiotic resistant strains, MRSA, cause disfiguring skin boils, pneumonia and the deaths of tens of thousands of people every year.

Infections from the superbugs are only likely to get worse as MRSA is now resistant to methicillin, amoxicillin, penicillin and oxacillin — basically all the ‘cillins that the medical fraternity currently have to fight such infections. This is a growing problem with some studies suggesting that in 10 years more people could die from infectious disease than from cancer.

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