Discovery made in search for MRSA vaccine

A University of Rochester Medical Center team of orthopedic scientists has made discoveries that move them a step closer to a human vaccine against the life-threatening methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus infections that can affect bone and joint surgery.

Edward M. Schwarz, the leader of the study, second-year graduate student John Varrone and their colleagues discovered four anti-gluclosaminidase monoclonal antibodies that kept MRSA bacteria from growing in cell cultures, eScienceNews.com reports. They also tested the antibodies in mice and reduced MRSA infection by 50 percent.

A vaccine to MRSA infections would help reduce the 500,000 hospitalizations and 19,000 deaths caused by the infections each year in the United States. Staph infections are the leading cause of osteomyelitis, which is a potentially deadly bacterial infection of the bone that may occur after joint and bone surgery.

"A vaccine in humans would probably not be a foolproof approach to preventing infection 100 percent of the time," Schwartz said, according to eScienceNews.com. "However, even if we could reduce the risk of MRSA by 35 percent, that would be an enormous improvement in the field."

Work on anti-Gmd agents is being conducted by scientists at Codevax, LLC, a company started by the University of Rochester in conjunction with private venture capitalists, eScienceNews.com reports. They hope to find existing monoclonal antibodies that have strong safety profiles, such as those that have been used to develop cancer drugs like Rituxan and Herceptin.