Daniel Pilch, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Pharmacology at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, co-founder of TAXIS Pharmaceuticals, and co-author of the study, explains why MRSA is especially dangerous, and the effectiveness of the team’s new drug, TXA079.
Interview Transcript (slightly modified for readability)
“Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, is particularly dangerous for a number of reasons. The Centers for Disease Control [and Prevention] have identified MRSA as one of the top five major threats to public health, both in the United States, and globally, for that matter.
The threat of MRSA was so serious, that last year, the Presidential Council of Advisors on Science and Technology submitted to [former] President Obama a report. [This report] listed MRSA among the top threats and urged the [former] President to commit himself and the government to ensuring a constant arsenal of new antibiotics to combat this growing resistance problem, of which MRSA was a part.
In the US alone, MRSA infections cause [approximately] 20,000 deaths a year, even more globally. We don’t even know how many deaths [MRSA causes] globally due to reporting issues in some of the lesser developed countries, but in the US alone it’s a problem and it’s still growing.
The current drugs we have [on hand] to treat MRSA infections are limited and resistance to those drugs is now on the rise. And so, the few drugs we have are likely to be less and less efficacious in the future. So, our choices will diminish further if we don’t do something now to help augment this limited arsenal. Our research was aimed at precisely that.
Our primary goal, our focus, has been to bring new drugs to the clinic that can effectively treat all MRSA infections, particularly those that are resistant to the current standard of care drugs that we have. Our lead agent, called TXA709 is targeted for clinical trials beginning in the spring, if all goes well. It meets all those criteria. It is able to effectively treat every MRSA strain we’ve thrown at it, even ones that are resistant to all the current standard of care drugs, one of more of them at the very least.
Additionally, [TXA709] can be taken orally. Most of the standard of care drugs for MRSA can only be given intravenously, [but our drug] offers and additional opportunity for treating MRSA even on an out-patient basis.
Over the last 30 years, [the prevalence of MRSA infections in the United States has] risen steadily, [and] in the last few years, it looks like it may be plateauing. The reason for that is [that] it started to be prevalent only in healthcare facilities and then it spread, but its spread has now gone about as far as it can go. I believe that that’s the reason why the numbers are starting to plateau and are not increasing exponentially as they have from the 1950s until now.”
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