Cure for Deadly 'Superbug' May be Hiding in Our Noses

'Totally unexpected'
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 27, 2016 4:11 PM CDT
Cure for Deadly 'Superbug' May be Hiding in Our Noses

A team of German bacteriologists says our noses may contain more than boogers; there might also be a cure for the "hospital superbug" MRSA hiding up there, the Guardian reports. According to the Los Angeles Times, MRSA kills about 11,000 US patients every year and sickens another 80,500. And like other harmful bacteria, it's rapidly building up resistance to all our antibiotics. Enter Staphylococcus lugdunensis. The bacteria found living in people's noses produces an MRSA-killing antibody known as lugdunin. Not only does lugdunin appear to be effective against MRSA, it also doesn't appear to cause any sort of resistance buildup in the superbug, according to a new study published in Nature.

The study's coauthor, Andreas Peschel, calls the discovery of S. lugdunensis "totally unexpected." Antibiotics traditionally come from bacteria living in soil. But if lugdunin lives up to its promise, the human body could be an entirely new source for scientists. It would also be the first new class of antibiotic in nearly three decades. The idea is to take the lugdunin-producing genes from S. lugdunensis, which can cause illness, and put them into harmless bacteria. While that's a promising idea, one expert warns the Guardian that lugdunin is still "a million miles away from being a useful drug." (More MRSA stories.)

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