The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health, has awarded a UCLA research team a five-year, $9 million contract to fund a multicenter study investigating antibiotic treatments for MRSA, a staph infection seen increasingly in communities across the nation that is resistant to antibiotics most commonly used to treat skin infections.
The study, to be led by co-principal investigators Dr. David A. Talan and Dr. Gregory J. Moran, both of Olive View–UCLA Medical Center and the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, will explore whether various off-patent antibiotics for the treatment of uncomplicated skin and soft tissue infections may be effective in treating MRSA, or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. Off-patent medications are those whose patents have expired, allowing any manufacturer to produce them.
"The emergence of the new, potentially more infectious and virulent strain of S. aureus in the community, referred to as community-associated or CA–MRSA, has caused serious outbreaks of disease over the past few years," said Talan, a professor of medicine at the Geffen School of Medicine and chief of emergency medicine and professor of infectious diseases at Olive View–UCLA. "We are hopeful to be able to identify the most effective antibiotic treatment for these infections."
Last year, the research team reported in The New England Journal of Medicine that CA-MRSA had become the most common cause of skin and soft tissue infections among patients presenting to a geographically diverse group of 11 emergency departments across the nation. Researchers tested MRSA resistance to antibiotics in a test tube and found that in 57 percent of cases, doctors had prescribed an antibiotic to which the bacteria were resistant. Finding certain antibiotics ineffective against MRSA in a laboratory setting, however, does not necessarily mean they will fail in patients, who have the help of their immune systems. More research, including the study supported by this NIH contract, will address the impact of MRSA resistance to various off-patent antibiotics.
"It's important to find an optimal treatment in order to stop progression of serious infection or prevent recurrence," said Moran, clinical professor of medicine at the Geffen School of Medicine and in the department of emergency medicine and the division of infectious diseases at Olive View–UCLA.
Researchers note that this NIH contract is unique, since it will fund the investigation of off-patent antibiotics that would not typically be evaluated through pharmaceutical industry–supported research.
Community-associated MRSA most often manifests itself on the skin as a boil or pimple that can be swollen, red and painful and can have discharge. Most MRSA cases are mild, and having the infection drained and keeping it clean generally resolves the problem. But when antibiotics are needed, it is important to prescribe an effective medication.
Olive View–UCLA Medical Center will be the principal study site. Anusha Krishnadasan, Ph.D., at Olive View–UCLA is the project director. Other participating centers and investigators include Dr. Fredrick Abrahamian at Olive View–UCLA, Dr. Richard Rothman at Johns Hopkins University Medical Center in Baltimore, Dr. Frank LoVecchio at Maricopa Medical Center in Phoenix, Dr. Mark Steele at Truman/University of Missouri Medical Center in Kansas City and Dr. David Karras at Temple University Medical Center in Philadelphia.