In findings recently published in FEMS Microbiology Reviews, researchers now believe neutralizing toxins could provide​ therapeutic benefits during antibiotic-resistant Staphylococcus aureus infections like MRSA.

MRSA, or methicillin-resistant S. aureus, can cause serious infections that can lead to death in both hospital and community settings under certain circumstances. As an increasingly antibiotic-resistant infection, it is becoming one of the most common S. aureus infections present in the world.

Researchers have been working on a vaccine against S. aureus diseases for decades, but all vaccination attempts aimed at preventing these infections have failed in human trials. This is especially true of vaccines aimed at generating high amounts of antibodies in a person's blood against S. aureus infections.

“These trials have failed because our understanding of complex immune response, subsequent to severe S. aureus infections, is far from complete," said Sanjay K. Shukla, Ph.D., director for the Center for Precision Medicine Research at Marshfield Clinic Research Institute. “Focusing on neutralizing toxins may be a better treatment option for these infections."

The researchers believe staphylococcal toxins can increase the severity of these infections, and that neutralizing these toxins could be a way to treat them.

Behind the research

The research, “Development of a vaccine against Staphylococcus aureus invasive infections: Evidence based on human immunity, genetics, and bacterial evasion mechanisms", was published in FEMS Microbiology Review Dec. 16.

The researchers involved in the research include Shukla, Lloyd S. Miller, Johns Hopkins University; Vance G. Fowler, Jr., Duke University Medical Center; Warren E. Rose, University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health; and Richard A. Proctor, University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health.

In the review, the researchers summarized data from humans regarding the immune responses that protect against these infections. They also presented facts on genetic factors and bacterial evasion mechanisms. These will be important to consider when developing effective and successful vaccines and immunotherapies against these infections in the future.  ​