Trinity immunologists make progress in search for MRSA vaccine

The discovery “could significantly increase our chances of realising an effective vaccine to protect patients from MRSA”


A group of immunologists from Trinity have made a breakthrough discovery in efforts to create a vaccine against MRSA.

Dr Rachel McLoughlin, assistant professor in immunology in Trinity and a member of the research group involved, described the process of the study in a College press release. “By screening patients with Staphylococcus aureus blood stream infections,” she claimed they were able to “isolate key players in the immune system that dealt with these infections.” This allowed the team to design a model vaccine, which sparked the necessary “key players” into action.

The work was carried out with the help of clinicians at three Dublin teaching hospitals.

Staphyloccus aureus had initially been treated with the antibiotic methicillin. However, since the 1960s, the rate of resistance to methicillin has been increasing, forcing the medical community to seek an alternative solution.  

Because of the diseases resistance to antibiotics, researchers have turned their focus to creating vaccines as a way preventing the bacteria’s spread.

McLoughlin claimed that the findings discovered by the team will contribute to the design of anti-Staphylococcus aureus vaccines and “could significantly increase our chances of realising an effective vaccine to protect patients from MRSA.”

She further said: “It’s very exciting to think that the discoveries we made here in Trinity may actually be part of what helps us to realise an effective vaccine against MRSA and potentially protect the world against this raging epidemic antimicrobial resistance.”

In 2006, there was wide media coverage about what was then referred to as the ‘superbug’ MRSA.  Since then, infection levels have fallen by 62%. However, there remains cause for concern, according to health minister, Leo Varadkar, as “MRSA rates in Ireland remain high compared to many countries.”