MRSA vax breakthrough reported by UChicago team

With the deadly MRSA bacteria making the rounds at hospitals with increasing frequency, investigators have highlighted two new research developments that could help pave the way to a new vaccine for what is now the leading cause of death from infectious disease.

"Staph aureus is the world champion of immune suppression," says Olaf Schneewind, professor and chair of microbiology at the University of Chicago. But his team found that a mutant version of the Protein A molecule will spur an immune response in mice. The investigators were also successful at generating antibodies to two key clotting factors--coagulase and von Willebrand factor binding protein--helping to protect mice from a staph infection.

The team developed an anti-coagulase vaccine by injecting purified versions of the clotting factors from a different kind of bacteria (E. coli) into mice and allowing the mice time to produce antibodies. About two weeks later, they injected the mice with staph. Even when injected with the virulent strain USA300, mice vaccinated with both antigens had far fewer abscesses and survived longer.

"The establishment of abscess lesions can be blocked with antibodies specific for coagulases," the authors conclude. "These data further corroborate the concept that Coagulase and vWbp should be considered for staphylococcal vaccine development."

- check out the University of Chicago release for more info