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Staphylococcus Vaccine

December 3, 2007

A new vaccine for staph infections could reduce the problem of antibiotic resistance.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):
How to fool bacteria. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

You’ve probably heard it in the news. Antibiotic-resistant staph infections are much more common now than ever before. That’s because we’ve been overusing antibiotics since they were first invented. Killing the bacteria outright leaves only the most virulent strains which then reproduce and spread. When directly threatened, these super bacteria fight back. They signal each other to turn on genes that allow them to circumvent our immune system. But immunologist Kim Janda and his colleagues at the Scripps Institute devised a way to shut them up.

KIM JANDA (Scripps Institute):
What we’ve done is created a vaccine which basically doesn’t allow them to communicate with each other, but they don’t know it.

HIRSHON:
Once they’re silent, our natural defenses can remove the infection. Janda hopes the vaccines may one day be widely available. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.