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Study discovers why Staphylococcus aureus gets up the nose

Category: Infectious Diseases

A recent collaborative effort between the School of Biochemistry and Immunology and the Department of Microbiology at Trinity College Dublin has revealed a mechanism in the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus that allows it to enter the body via the nose. The study has significant implications for hospital health due to the pervasiveness of Staphylococcus aureus and other bacterial infections that are usually unaffected by antibiotics in healthcare facilities.

The researchers revealed that the bacterial protein clumping factor B (ClfB) binds to the skin protein loricrin, allowing it to enter through the nasal passageway. Using mouse models, they found that the subjects with less loricrin had less bacterial colonization than the mice with normal levels of the skin protein, and that strains of the bacteria that were devoid of ClfB were unable to colonize the nose.

"Loricrin is a major determinant of S. aureus nasal colonization," said study author Rachel McLoughlin, Ph.D., who is a lecturer at the School of Biochemistry and Immunology at Trinity College Dublin.

Staphylococcus aureus facts
According to the National Institutes of Health, Staphylococcus aureus, which can be detected with a lab test is the most common culprit of staph infections, although there are more than 30 similar strains that can also cause the condition. Some side effects of staph infections include skin infection, pneumonia, food poisoning, toxic shock syndrome and blood poisoning. The source notes that skin infections occur most frequently.

Nearly anyone can get a staph infection, but a person is more likely to develop the condition if he or she has a cut or scratch, or touches someone who already has the infection. The best way to prevent developing an infection is to be vigilant about hygiene and constantly wash the hands. While antibiotics can treat many staph infections, sometimes patients develop methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, which is unaffected by antibiotics.

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