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Superbugs cured by bullfrogs?

Visit University of St Andrews website

1 May 2007

Scientists have found a possible cure for MRSA from an unlikely source – American bullfrogs.

The researchers at the University of St Andrews have developed a novel treatment which kills the bacterium. A key ingredient is ranalexin, which is produced by the Rana frog species.

A team led by microbiologist Dr Peter Coote found that ranalexin had a ‘potent and significant’ inhibitory effect on MRSA when combined with another antimicrobial compound.

Dr Coote, of the University’s Centre for Biomolecular Science (CBMS), said, “MRSA is a major cause of hospital infection in the UK and is responsible for approximately 2000 deaths every year. Our finding represents a potentially novel way to combat MRSA via surface treatment or impregnation of wound dressings.”

Combining antibiotics is a common way of targeting a wide spectrum of organisms and prevents the emergence of resistant strains. It also decreases toxicity to the patient because lower doses of each ingredient are used. The researchers found a positive effect against MRSA when combining ranalexin with the antimicrobial lysostaphin.

Ranalexin is an antimicrobial peptide -natural molecules that are produced by all living creatures as a defence against disease-causing pathogens. The St Andrews team hope that by impregnating dressings with the two compounds, the combination can be used as a novel and effective method to treat wounds infected by drug-resistant MRSA.

Dr Coote said, “The development of new routes to target MRSA that do not result in the acquisition of resistance would greatly improve the ability of clinicians to tackle these infections more effectively and cheaply.”

The St Andrews’ research has been patented and is published by the British Society for Antimicrobial Chemotherapy. The research was funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC).


Notes to editors

For more information please visit the University of St Andrews website, http://www.st-andrews.ac.uk


The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) is the UK funding agency for research in the life sciences. Sponsored by Government, BBSRC annually invests around £380 million in a wide range of research that makes a significant contribution to the quality of life for UK citizens and supports a number of important industrial stakeholders including the agriculture, food, chemical, healthcare and pharmaceutical sectors. http://www.bbsrc.ac.uk


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