Southern Miss graduate students Dhritiman Samanta, foreground, and Justin Batte are conducting research to determine the risk factors for contracting Staph infection. -Courtesy photo
Researchers from The University of Southern Mississippi and Forrest General Hospital have teamed up in an effort to combat the mortality rate of staph infections.
Staph infections are becoming an increasingly prevalent issue. With approximately 86,000 cases and 11,000 deaths per year in the United States, the causative agent of staph infections, Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), has essentially become antibiotic-resistant.
According to a press release from the university, there had not been any previous studies to reveal the risk factors of highly resistant MRSA for those living in Mississippi and the Southeast United States.
The project was headed by USM professor and director of Mississippi INBRE (Idea Network of Biomedical Research Excellence) Mohamed Elasri in partnership with Dr. Luis Marcos, medical director of the Infection Prevention Department and Head of the Antimicrobial Stewardship Program at Forrest General Hospital.
According to the university press release, Elasri said that he is excited about partnering with Forrest General and he anticipates a very productive collaboration.
“Dr. Marcos is very dedicated to reducing the rates of staph for his patients, and we have the expertise to study staph at the molecular level,” Elasri said.
Elasri’s lab was able to partake in the experiments and antibiotic testing through funding from Mississippi INBRE, while Marcos collected patient information and MRSA samples.
USM graduate students, Dhritiman Samanta and Justin Batte, also took part in Elasri’s lab. The students pointed out that the strains of MRSA vary among different areas of the U.S. and it is important to know which antibiotic is effective for each particular strain.
“We tested a variety of antibiotics on the isolated strains of MRSA to discover what drug would best kill the bacteria of each isolate tested,” Batte said.
According to the press release issued by the university, researchers analyzed a total of 30 patients and identified several risk factors of MRSA in order to predict local outbreaks of staph infections in the future.
“After this paper (identifying the risk factors associated with MRSA) was published, we actually isolated a very highly resistant strain of staph from the same hospital,” Samanta said.
“Currently, we are analyzing that strain with molecular techniques and in the future we will study the patient’s medical history and find out if any of the risk factor we identified earlier exist there.”
“This research is helping us to identify risk factors associated with MRSA infections. If we can just do interventions to reduce the transmission of MRSA among health care facilities, this could potentially reduce the transmission of MRSA among health care facilities, this could potentially reduce the severe MRSA infections that place these patients into the hospital,” Marcos said.
For more information regarding Mississippi INBRE, visit msinbre.org.