California

Torrance Researchers Testing “Superbug” Vaccine

Researchers at LA BioMed, a nonprofit independent lab, are on the cutting edge. They're in the final stages of developing a vaccine against MRSA - another hospital based infection.

If that works, it could one day lead to a vaccine against CRE and other so-called "superbugs."

"We've been preparing for this," said Dr. Jamie McKinnell, the LA BioMed lead researcher. "CRE is a pathogen that keeps me up at night. We're trying to figure out how to prevent it."

CRE is suspected of contributing to two deaths and seven infections at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center.

The patients infected all had an advanced endoscopic procedure using an instrument that is difficult to sterilize.

Researchers say CRE is new to California, but is widely seen on the East Coast and in Israel.

Doctors say since CRE is resistant to antibiotics, the best way to deal with the problem is to try and prevent it from occurring in the first place.

Vaccines train your immune system how to identify the infectious bacteria so your body can fight it.

Researchers say if the MRSA vaccine is proven successful it would still be several years before it would be available to the public.

"The patients that will see the biggest benefit are patients that are going to the hospital," McKinnell said. "But, essentially, everybody is at risk of a MRSA infection so you could give it to every child and every adult."

Another preventive tool being studied is an antibacterial soap that's used in intensive care units.

"We're really interested in using an old hospital soap. It's called Chlorhexidine," McKinnell said. "That reduces their risk of carrying CRE and transmitting it to other patients."

Investigators say they're working with hospitals to develop a coordinated response to this CRE outbreak - to make sure it doesn't spread any further.

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