Saturday, November 17, 2007

Staph Reborn

Bacteria are living things and sometimes I think people forget that. They can make us sick or help us live. But they are living things that can evolve just like macroscopic things can. And, because we keep trying to kill them, they evolve faster.

Staph is a family of bacteria that are very common and isn't harmful until it gets in through an cut or open sore in the skin. There, it can wreck havok. It causes skin rashes and eats away at the flesh. Usually it can be killed with normal antibiotics but a new strain has been found that is resistant.

They call is MRSA, pronouced mersa. I'm sure you have heard about it on the news a lot lately. It has been in schools, day cares, prisons and locker rooms a lot recently. Once its in the body, it kills off the cell the body uses to fight it. Doctors have been hard pressed to stop it.

But, from hard times comes great discoveries. Doctors started studying the way the bacteria kill the white blood cells and found that they make and excrete a lot of a protein called phenol-soluble modulin, PSM. They then worked to isolate the gene that makes that protein and turned it off. After the scientists figured all that out, they grew two types of staph, ones that can excrete PSM and ones that can and injected it into rats. The rats that had the bacteria that lacked the PSM faired much better than those who had otherwise.

I think that its a great thing that scientists are figuring out how bacteria kill us, and I'm not being sarcastic, but part of the reason the reason that bacteria are becoming so resistant to antibiotics is our misuse of them. We get so paranoid and use it way too much. And, the more we use it, the more resistant bacteria that come from it. I think we need to rethink how we fight infection while we still can.

Thanks Science News for the content. Again, picture posted later.

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