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MRSA susceptible to existing antibiotics, study finds
Researchers identified the genes that make MRSA susceptible to treatment with a combination of the drugs.
Research highlights importance of genomic surveillance

An international study involving scientists from The Roslin Institute has found that a combination of antibiotics and a drug used to treat kidney infections could treat MRSA and limit the spread of antimicrobial resistance.

The study published in Nature Microbiology used genome sequencing technology to examine how a combination of penicillin with clavulanic acid - a medicine used to treat kidney infections - could be used to target MRSA infections.

Researchers identified the genes that make MRSA susceptible to treatment with a combination of the drugs, in which the clavulanic acid prevents an enzyme in the bacteria from destroying the penicillin.

It is hoped the development will aid in the fight against antimicrobial resistance, in which certain medicines have become less effective against some bacteria.

“This study highlights the importance of genomic surveillance – collecting and sequencing representative collections of bacterial strains,” said Dr Ewan Harrison, study lead from the Wellcome Sanger Institute and the University of Cambridge.

“By combining the DNA sequencing data generated by genomic surveillance with laboratory testing of the strains against a broad selection of antibiotics, we may find other unexpected chinks in the armour of antibiotic-resistant bacteria that might give us new treatment options.”

Dr Gavin Peterson from the Roslin Institute added: “These findings highlight that currently available drugs may be effective against serious infection caused by MRSA, which may represent a new approach to targeting a significant problem in modern healthcare.”

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RSPCA braced for ‘hectic hedgehog month’

News Story 1
 The RSPCA says that it is bracing itself for a ‘hectic hedgehog month’ after calls to the charity about the creatures peaked this time last year.

More than 10,000 calls about hedgehogs were made to the RSPCA’s national helpline in 2018, 1,867 of which were in July. This compares with just 133 calls received in February of the same year.

Evie Button, the RSPCA’s scientific officer, said: “July is our busiest month for hedgehogs. Not only do calls about hedgehogs peak, but so do admissions to our four wildlife centres as members of the public and our own officers bring in orphaned, sick or injured animals for treatment and rehabilitation.” 

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ASF traces found in seized meat at NI airport

More than 300kg of illegal meat and dairy products were seized at Northern Ireland’s airports in June, DAERA has revealed.

A sample of these were tested at the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute, resulting in the detection of African swine fever DNA fragments.

DAERA said that while the discovery does not pose a significant threat to Northern Ireland’s animal health status, it underlines the importance of controls placed on personal imports of meat and dairy products. Holidaymakers travelling overseas are being reminded not to bring any animal or plant products back home.