Some of the most aggressive antibiotic-resistant staph infections gain their advantage with a molecule that punctures the immune cells trying to fight off the bacteria, scientists have discovered. Understanding the role of this molecule in methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) could lead to new therapies for the notoriously hard-to-treat, and sometimes fatal, skin infection.
Staph bacteria are ubiquitous but aren't dangerous unless they seep into an open wound. Even then, antibiotics will usually stop the infection. But some strains of staph that infect hospital patients with weakened immune systems have become resistant to all standard antibiotics, including methicillin.