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Long-term use of antibiotics leads to the rise of multidrug-resistant bacteria, which notoriously recolonize and cause a relapse of chronic diseases in immunocompromised individuals.

New, Recombinant Enzyme May End the MRSA Battle

When left untreated, multidrug-resistant Staphylococci infections aggravate chronic diseases, worsen cancer, and drive multiple organ failure

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Swathi Kodaikal, MSc
Photo portrait of swathi kodaikal

Swathi Kodaikal, MSc, holds a master’s degree in biotechnology and has worked in places where actual science and research happen. Blending her love for writing with science, Swathi enjoys demystifying complex research findings for readers from all walks of life. On the days she doesn’t write, she learns and performs Kathak, sings, makes plans to travel, and obsesses over cleanliness.

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Published:Mar 21, 2023
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A study published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology reported a new class of antibacterial agents called endolysins, which are recombinantly produced peptidoglycan (PG) hydrolases. They cleave the bonds in PG molecules, and hence, can destroy the cell walls of metabolically active and inactive bacteria—including multidrug-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, per the study.

The findings are particularly beneficial for patients with compromised immunity for whom a Staphylococcus aureus infection can be fatal. In these patients, high doses of antibiotics seem to work in the beginning, but once stopped, their symptoms reappear. In some cases, antibiotic-resistant Staphylococci have also shown tumor-promoting effects.

“That is why we are careful not to give antibiotics to everyone, because we do not want to have to deal with more resistant bacteria. Therefore, it is important that we find new ways of treating, and not the least, preventing these infections,” said Niels Ødum, MD, DMSc, professor, LEO Foundation Skin Immunology Research Center at the University of Copenhagen, in a recent press release.

“We have been testing the substance on skin samples from patients, and it does appear to kill Staphylococcus aureus from patients. Endolysins do not care whether the bacterium is resistant to antibiotics or not, because it does not work in the same way as antibiotics,” said Ødum. “The good news is that our lab tests have shown that endolysins do not just eradicate Staphylococcus aureus; they also inhibit their ability to promote cancer growth.”