Methicillin-Resistant Staph aureus (MRSA) Emerged Years Before Methicillin Was Introduced into Clinical Practice

Science Advances article]Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) emerged long before the introduction of the antibiotic methicillin into clinical practice, according to a study published online on July 20,2017 in the open-access journal Genome Biology. It was the widespread use of earlier antibiotics such as penicillin rather than of methicillin itself that caused MRSA to emerge, researchers at the University of St. Andrews, and the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, UK, suggest. The article is titled “Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus Emerged Long Before the Introduction of Methicillin into Clinical Practice.” The researchers found that S. aureus acquired the gene that confers methicillin resistance - mecA - as early as the mid-1940s - fourteen years before the first use of methicillin. Professor Matthew Holden, molecular microbiologist at the University of St. Andrews, the corresponding author said: "Our study provides important lessons for future efforts to combat antibiotic resistance. It shows that new drugs which are introduced to circumvent known resistance mechanisms, as methicillin was in 1959, can be rendered ineffective by unrecognized, pre-existing adaptations in the bacterial population.
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