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A marine sponge may hold the key to beating superbug infections

Harold Mandel's picture
A marine sponge for superbug treatment

Researchers have found that a compound found in deep-water marine sponges may offer a way to fight methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infections.


There has been growing fears of extremely virulent infections which are resistant to standard antibiotic treatment. The search for a treatment for these potentially lethal infections has been ongoing.

Antibacterial properties of a compound from a deep water sponge may be effective in the fight against MRSA infections

Florida Atlantic University reports the antibacterial properties of a compound from a deep water sponge may be effective in the fight against MRSA infections. This deep water sponge has been found near the Bahamas.

MRSA bacteria are called the superbug

MRSA bacteria are also called the "superbug." These bacteria are resistant to all of the beta-lactam antibiotics such as penicillin, methicillin, oxacillin and amoxicillin and they therefore are potentially fatal. There are greater than 80,000 invasive MRSA infections and 11,285 associated deaths a year according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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The antibiotic derived from marine sponges is called "dragmacidin G"

The researchers have coined the name for the antibiotic derived from marine sponges "dragmacidin G." This antibiotic has been found to have a broad spectrum of biological activity which includes inhibiting MRSA and many pancreatic cancer cell lines. Amy Wright, Ph.D., who was lead author of this research and a research professor at FAU's Harbor Branch, says it has been discovered sponges of the genus Spongosorites are a source of substances which have antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, antiplasmodial, cytotoxic and anti-inflammatory treatment activities.

When superbugs strike doctors can't stop it from spreading

It has been reported by WebMD that when MRSA superbugs strike doctors can't stop it from spreading. This has created an urgent concern internationally that has prompted action.

MedlinePlus reports that the key to stopping MRSA infections in hospitals is better infection control. In order to prevent community associated MRSA it is important to practice good hygiene. Cuts and scrapes should be well covered with a bandage until they are healed. It is important to avoid making contact with the wounds and bandages of other people.

Other suggestions to prevent community associated MRSA include not sharing personal items, such as towels, washcloths, clothes, or razors. Soiled sheets, towels, and clothes should be washed in hot water with bleach and dried in a hot dryer.

Clearly MRSA superbugs are continuing to strike in hospitals and communities in spite of a growing awareness of measures which can be taken to avoid being hit with these potentially lethal infections. The finding that substances in marine sponges have antibacterial properties which are effective in MRSA treatment offers hope in the fight against these deadly bacteria.