There are 15,000+ people at the 48th Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemistry (known as ICAAC – yes, “Ick-ack”) and 46th Infectious Diseases Society of America Annual Meeting, and at least half of them seem interested in MRSA. At the keynote address last night, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at NIH, referred to MRSA as a “global pandemic.”
Here are some highlights — a few of very, very many — from the first two days:
- MRSA is truly a global phenomenon: Researchers here are reporting on local epidemics in Argentina, Australia, Botswana, Canada, Colombia, Ecuador, Greece, Japan, Nigeria, Peru, South Korea, Sweden and Taiwan.
- In the United States, USA300 — the virulent community strain that is crowding out all other community strains — continues its dominance. It first appeared in the San Francisco jail in 2001 and now is the only cause of community MRSA infections there. (Tattevin, P. et al. “What Happened After the Introduction of USA300 in Correctional Facilities?” Poster C2-225.)
- And MRSA continues to demonstrate its protean ability to cause unexpected forms of illness: The number of cases of sinusitis caused by MRSA seen at Georgetown University tripled between 2001-03 and 2004-06. (I. Brook and J. Hausfeld. “Increase in the Frequency of Recovery of Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus in Acute and Chronic Maxillary Sinusitis.” Poster C2-228.)
- Meanwhile, treatment options are shrinking. Hospitalization for vancomycin-resistant pathogens (that is, resistant to vancomycin, the drug of last resort for MRSA) doubled between 2003 and 2005 according to national healthcare utilization databases. (A.M. Ramsey et al. “The Growing Burden of Vancomycin Resistance in US Hospitals, 2000-2005.” Poster K-560.)
- But, new drugs are beginning to emerge from the pipeline. Early results from a privately held company called Paratek Pharmaceuticals (co-founded by resistance guru Dr. Stuart Levy) showed that their new tetracycline relative PTK 0796 scored as well or slightly better than linezolid (Zyvox) in safety, tolerability and adverse events, and is advancing to a full Phase 3 trial. (R.D. Arbeit et al. “Safety and Efficacy of PTK 0796.” Poster L-1515.)
More as the meeting goes on.