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OU chemists develop antibiotic formulation to fight MRSA, other bacteria

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Professor Charles Rice

OU chemistry professor Charles Rice conducts an experiment in his laboratory at the Stephenson Life Sciences Research Center on the OU Research Campus.

An OU research team with 11 graduate and undergraduate students, has developed a new antibiotic formula for fighting methicillin-resistant S. aureus, or MRSA, as well as other antibiotic-resistant infectious bacteria.

According to a press release from OU’s research department, the new drug uses traditional Food and Drug Administration-approved antibiotics like methicillin alongside the polymer branched poly-ethylenimine, or BPEI.

Certain strains MRSA have developed resistances to the commonly used treatment of methicillin said Charles Rice, principal investigator and professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry with the OU College of Arts and Sciences.

Rice and his team have conducted research that has yielded a way to neutralize the MRSA bacteria in such a way that it is no longer resistant to the methicillin.

“The BPEI breaks down the resistant barrier, and the methicillin can then attack the infection,” Rice said.

According to the release, the new method can be used to neutralize other infectious bacteria as well. Other penicillin type drugs, when combined with BPEI and similar polymers, could yield new first-line drug treatments for MRSA and many infectious bacteria.

The new formula is still awaiting FDA approval, and Rice said he is guardedly optimistic about the drug’s effects on other infectious bacteria as well as its fate during that testing phase.

Rice said the testing is unpredictable and could take anywhere from five to twenty years.

“The use of first-line antibiotics to kill MRSA or other infectious bacteria will improve patient outcomes and lower the economic burden,” Rice said in the release. “The discovery in our laboratory has made it possible to create an effective antibiotic that can reduce expensive hospitalization costs.”

According to the release, The Centers for Disease Control deems MRSA a serious threat to human health, but the new treatment developed by Rice and team members Robert Cichewicz and Daniel Glatzhofer has the potential to change how patients with MRSA are treated.

Rice called this strong language for the CDC, adding that this new treatment could be bought at a low cost early after a diagnoses and could save lives as an early treatment, but did not go so far as to call it a first line of defense.

Tanner Osborne is a journalism freshman and news reporter at the Daily.

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