The Texas A&M University System Health Science Center Institute of Biosciences and Technology (IBT) recently received a grant of $100,000 from the Neva and Wesley West Foundation. The grant funds will support studies of bacterial infections caused by an antibiotic-resistant form of the Staphylococcus aureus bacteria. IBT is located in Houston in the renowned Texas Medical Center.
IBT’s research goal is to help curb an outbreak of severe infections caused by MRSA (methicillin-resistant S. aureus) that are affecting otherwise healthy people. The MRSA strains of bacteria are spreading in communities across the country and can cause life-threatening infections in children, young adults and athletes. In Texas the problem is severe, with the rate of MRSA infections at epidemic proportions.
Gabriela Bowden, Ph.D., at IBT’s Center for Extracellular Matrix Biology (CEMB), heads the research team that is investigating why the MRSA strains are so virulent. Earlier efforts have made the CEMB, directed by Magnus Höök, Ph.D., one of the world’s leading research laboratories that studies infections diseases caused by staphylococci. Dr. Bowden and her IBT colleagues are now studying the molecular basis of MRSA infections to identify targets for future therapies, and later they will test these therapies using animal models developed at IBT. Drs. Höök and Bowden are collaborating with researchers at Texas Children’s Hospital, where the specific MRSA strain that is affecting the Houston area has been identified.

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