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Posted Sat Feb 14 2009: from Reuters:
Sea sponge shows promise as superbug antidote
CHICAGO (Reuters) -- A compound from a sea sponge was able to reverse antibiotic resistance in several strains of bacteria, making once-resistant strains succumb to readily available antibiotics, U.S. researchers said on Friday. "We can resensitize these pathogenic bacteria to standard, current-generation antibiotics," said Peter Moeller of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Hollings Marine Laboratory in Charleston, South Carolina. Drug-resistant bacteria are a growing problem in hospitals worldwide, marked by the rise of superbugs such as methicillin-resistant Staphyloccus aureus, or MRSA. Such infections kill about 19,000 people a year in the United States. Moeller, who is working with researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina and North Carolina State University, said the team noticed a sponge thriving in what was an otherwise dead coral reef. "It begged the question how is it surviving when everything else is dying?" Moeller told reporters at the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in Chicago. "This opened up a whole new arena for us." The researchers began chopping the sponge into smaller and smaller bits to isolate the properties that helped the sponge thrive in hostile marine conditions. The team found that these bits of sponge were able to repel bacterial biofilms -- a slimy substance bacteria form to help stick to surfaces.
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Sponges able to repel...? Now that's deep!

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