Health Alert: Possible MRSA Cure?

Researchers may have developed antibiotic to fight MRSA infections

SOUTH BEND, IN (NBC) - Researchers at Notre Dame think they have the antibiotic to stop the MRSA superbug.

Leading the research is Dr. Shahriar Mobashery, who says staph infections that are long linked to hospitals are spreading into the general population.

"Places like prisons or playgrounds, where people come into contact with one another in the locker room for athletes. There is a variant of MRSA that is known as the community-acquired MRSA and that is a big concern," said Dr. Mobashery.

The infection is global problem that sickened 100,000 people in the U.S. last year, one-fifth of whom died.

Mobashery's research focuses on a unique protein called Penicillin-binding protein 2a or PBP2a.

A combination of organic chemistry, biochemistry and computational components led researchers to their discovery.

Using goggles allowed us to get a 3-D look at the protein which is the target.

"What we have here is the protein which is the target in MRSA," said Mobashery. "MRSA of course the difficult bacterium. This is a protein that actually exists in MRSA, the staph infection that is highly resistant to antibiotics."

The green you see in the picture is the MRSA protein, and those sticks represent the drug researchers developed.

"This is the protein that is indispensable to MRSA for its survival and by having this drug fitting into that cavity, what we have is a process that interferes with the daily existence of MRSA. MRSA cannot cope with it, and it dies."

Notre Dame is so excited about the drug that they now have a patent on PBP-2a.

"It looks very promising," said Dr. Mobashery.

Promising, but still years away from being on the market.

The next step is getting pharmaceutical companies interested and performing human trials.

In the meantime, here's a breakdown of some steps you can take to stop the spread of MRSA in your home:

* Wash your hands for as long as takes to recite the alphabet.
* Cover all cuts and scrapes with bandages.
* Don't touch another person's cuts.
* Don't share personal items like towels or razors.

And while it's not a big danger this time of year, dry your clothes in the dryer rather than hanging them on the line.