First, holy shit, its June. I have work to do…
We’ll eventually get around to writing a post on the notorious Golden Staph but in the mean time there has been a massive discovery that may change the way we think about treating this pathogen.
Everyone has heard of Golden Staph as that bad boy bacteria that makes people who are already sick, and usually in hospital, even sicker but fewer people know about Staphylococcus epidermidis, a commensal, or ‘there-all-the-time’, bacteria that lives primarily on the harsh environment of your skin (no water, high salt, slightly acidic) and up your nose alongside Golden Staph. Some work done by a group from Jikei University in Japan has shown that Staph epidermidis, whilst not causing disease will actually out compete Golden Staph for resources in the nose effectively eliminating the pathogen from this location.
It does this using a biofilm. Many bacteria produce biofilms which are often referred to as bacterial cities because all the individual cells contribute to the production of this structure that then acts as a resource bank that is also resistant to many antibiotics and disinfectants.
It turns out one of the components of the S. epidermidis biofilm is an enzyme called a serine protease named Esp (Epidermidis Serine Protease). Whilst it’s not understood exactly what is going on the short version of the story seems to be that in the presence of Esp the pathogen S. aureus prefers to live as a loner and the biofilm’ed community of S. epidermidis can easily outcompete the S. aureus.
I suggest you read the paper, it’s not very long but its choc-full of interesting.