A new discovery which reveals how bacteria cling to the surfaces of medical devices could have potential to significantly reduce infections from devices like catheters and other lines inserted into the body.
The Health Research Board-funded research, published this week in The Journal of Infectious Diseases, was conducted by Professor James O’Gara in NUI Galway and Dr Eoghan O’Neill in the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland.
“We’ve discovered a new way that bacteria can attach themselves to the walls of a medical device and create a protective coating that stops our immune system and antibiotics from attacking them,” explained Prof O’Gara, who works in the Department of Microbiology at NUI Galway.
“MRSA can secrete an enzyme, called coagulase, that converts a component of our blood, fibrinogen, into fibrin. Fibrin is the protein that helps our blood to clot. This then acts as a scaffold onto which the bacteria attach themselves to the walls of the device, usually a plastic tube or catheter, and they also create a protective barrier with the fibrin that keep out antibiotics and our own immune system,” he said.
Dr O’Neill said the research team has tested some drugs that are known to break up blood clots and have found that they can break up the biofilms protecting these dangerous bacteria.
“This opens the possibility of us getting in early and disrupting the bacteria in the initial stages of an infection. When we break up the biofilm, we expose the bacteria to the patient’s own immune system response as well as allow us to try antibiotics against it,” he said.
The chief executive at the HRB, Dr Graham Love, said the discovery could make a significant global contribution to reducing device-related infections in hospitals
“This is the second major discovery by Professor O’Gara and Dr O’Neill and their teams at NUIG and the Royal College of Surgeons about how bacteria form biofilms. They are world leaders in their fields and the HRB is determined to keep them, and researchers like them, in Ireland.
“We are committed to creating the right environment in which people can both conduct top quality health research, and quickly convert those findings into new advances in patient care and patient outcomes,” he said.
Gardaí bid to identify body recovered near Mutton Island
Gardai have launched an investigation following the discovery of a body in Galway Bay yesterday afternoon.
A member of the public raised the alarm after spotting the body in the water while walking on the causeway to Mutton Island.
Galway Fire Service, Gardai and the RNLI attended the scene and recovered the body at around 4pm, before it was taken to University Hospital Galway for a post mortem.
It is understood that the body may have been in the water for some time.
Gardaí are currently examining a list of missing people in the city.
Gardaí investigate fatal Carraroe crash
A man in his 30s has died following a road crash in Carraroe in the early hours of this morning.
At 3.50am, Gardaí and emergency services attended at a single car collision on a minor road.
The driver of the car, a man in his 30s, was pronounced dead at the scene a short time later. A passenger in the car, a male in his 30s, was taken by ambulance to Galway University Hospital. His injuries are not thought to be life threatening.
The road is currently closed and local diversions are in place. Garda forensic collision investigators will examine the crash site this morning.
Land Development Agency rules out Merlin ‘land grab’
From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Campaigners have warned the Land Development Agency (LDA) to keep its hands off Merlin Woods.
Local community group Friends of Merlin Woods said that the amenity on the east side of the city is not suitable for residential development.
It has sought clarification on whether the LDA has earmarked part of the recreational and amenity lands for housing, after it appeared on its online database of publicly-owned lands.
In a statement to the Galway City Tribune, the LDA said its database compiles a list of all State lands, not just land for development.
In relation to Merlin Woods, the LDA said: “Those lands aren’t included in the LDA developments in Galway. The lands database is a map-based tool which compiles all State lands and has no reflection on development potential.”
It came after Caroline Stanley of Friends of Merlin Woods raised concern that land within Merlin Woods had been earmarked for development.
“I’d be concerned that it’s marked as residential when it’s in RA (Recreational and Amenity) land. Some is marked ‘open space’ but some is marked as ‘new proposed residential’ on its [LDA’s] database. It makes us wonder why. We’d like clarity and to clear it up.
“The message we’d like to get out there is we need clarification, whether it’s a mistake on the Land Development Agency’s part, or whether it is an area that they consider as a residential area, which the community would be opposed to. We need clarity. It could be something that is in line for development later on, we don’t know, and we need clarity.”
Councillor Owen Hanley explained that the fears around Merlin Woods stem from legislation currently making its way through the Oireachtas that would strip councillors of powers to veto the transfer of land to the LDA for housing projects.
The Bill would also allow Government to direct what public lands – including those owned by local authorities – can be transferred to the LDA for development of social and affordable housing.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.