Scientists have found how a key protein helps the MRSA superbug evade antibiotics, in a development that opens up the possibility of new anti-infection drugs.
Researchers said the Cfr protein acts on the ribosome, a molecular “factory” in cells which makes proteins vital for survival.
The study, in the journal Science, said many antibiotics bind on the ribosome in bacteria and stop it functioning, causing the bugs to die.
Through a chemical process called methylation, Cfr blocks the binding of antibiotics to the ribosome. At the same time it helps to keep the machinery working.
Cfr is made by a mobile gene that can move easily between different species of bacteria.
Scientists found that it passed from Staphylococcus sciuri, which normally only infects animals, to the human bug Staphylococcus aureus.
S aureus commonly lives in the nose and on the skin without causing harm. But it can be highly dangerous when it mutates into its resistant cousin MRSA.
Copyright © Press Association 2011