Staphylococcus aureus is a dangerous community- and hospital-acquired pathogen. Therefore, the spread, survival and prevalence of antibiotic resistant clones of S. aureus represent an important problem for human health. The selective pressure for antibiotic resistance is a driving force due to the massive use of such drugs throughout the world. However, the overall fitness and virulence of the bacteria is determined by their underlying genetic makeup. The traits, which determine the ability of a clone to become widespread, are largely unknown. These are likely to be multifactorial, as S. aureus is widespread in the environment due to its ability to survive outside the host and to be carried as a commensal bacterium in the human nose. It is therefore crucial to determine the key parameters required for virulence, nasal colonisation and survival in the environment in order to elucidate how these combine to produce epidemic strains. This requires a detailed knowledge of the bacterial components necessary for the above processes. The StaphDynamics partnership aims to define these bacterial components, which in themselves may form novel targets for prevention and control. Specifically, the partnership will investigate the fitness and epidemiology of resistant clones, characterise the most important clones phenotypically, and identify molecular determinants for fitness, virulence and resistance. To reach these goals, the full potential of bioinformatics, genomics, and proteomics approaches will be exploited. The StaphDynamics partnership has a proven track record in the application of these cutting-edge technologies. StaphDynamics will establish strong interactive links with the European Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance System (EARSS) which, together with the full participation of three SME companies, will guarantee a rapid translation of fundamental research data into practical clinical applications.[+] Read More
The quality of life of patients infected with antibiotic-resistant micro-organisms is dramatically decreased. Hospital stays of such patients are prolonged and infections often show very dramatic effects on the individual health situation. Moreover, infections with antibiotic resistant micro-organisms even lead to a higher morbidity in specific risk groups, such as elderly, immune-suppressed patients and children. Accordingly, the StaphDynamics programme addresses the general need for generating specific knowledge and tools to significantly enhance the quality of life of infected patients, and it contributes to meeting the societal challenge of an ageing European population. This is particularly relevant in view of the cost burden for the national health systems incurred by these untreatable bacteria. Since medical knowledge and technical standards are continuously increasing and the European population is ageing at the same time, the demand for high quality medical care is growing. Therefore, the costs for national health systems will increase even more over the next years. Supporting research in the area of antibiotic-resistance is therefore not only a response to expectations of society, but will also contribute to ensuring sustainability of the European public health systems.
The primary aim of the StaphDynamics project is to identify important molecular determinants for fitness, virulence and drug resistance of S. aureus that may serve as future targets for drug and vaccine development and to fight staphylococcal infections. The specific technical and scientific objectives include:
The StaphDynamics programme focuses on the need to translate genome data into practical applications, both in the fields of medicine (controlling infectious disease) and biotechnology. The project has been formulated to provide innovative solutions to the three industrial StaphDynamics partners (EMC, Biomade, Genmedics). Furthermore, the partnership will create an important knowledge base needed to foster European competitiveness in the area of antibiotics research.