Collaborative study with researchers from across the UAE reports previously unknown MRSA strains in the Gulf region

MBRU – “Continuing surveillance and responsible use of antibiotics are crucial in combatting the rise and spread of superbugs”

Dubai, November 24,  2020: Researchers from Mohammed Bin Rashid University of Medicine and Health Sciences (MBRU) led a study identifying and analyzing specific strains of the potentially deadly “superbug” Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region.

MRSA strains are responsible for many difficult-to-treat bacterial infections in humans because they are resistant to several antibiotics. Therefore, infections caused by MRSA are associated with treatment failures resulting in complications, increased length of hospitalization and, in severe cases, deaths as well as a high economic burden. The prevalence of MRSA has been rising in recent years and currently, it is estimated that up to 35% of Staphylococcus aureus infections in the UAE are due to MRSA.أبحاث الجينات لجامعة محمد بن راشد للطب والعلوم الصحية

With MRSA proving highly resistant to drugs, and with very little known about the molecular profile of MRSA isolates in the UAE, the objective of the genotyping study was to gain a better understanding of the genetic makeup of MRSA strains found in the UAE. This type of study also provides important clues to explain the rising prevalence of MRSA infections and potentially identify better ways to treat them.

The study, which was funded by MBRU, is the first-of-its-kind in the UAE, and a collaboration with teams from Rashid Hospital, Dubai Health Authority, Dubai; Mediclinic City Hospital Dubai; Sheikh Khalifa General Hospital, Umm Al Quwain; and Sheikh Khalifa Medical City, Abu Dhabi; as well as colleagues from institutions in Germany including the Leibniz Institute of Photonic Technology and the InfectoGnostics Research Campus in Jena Germany.  Ethical approval for the study was obtained from MBRU Institutional Review Board and relevant research ethics committees in collaborating centers.

The collaborative efforts produced several key findings, including the existence of an extensive collection of MRSA strains in the UAE and the emergence of MRSA strains not previously identified in the GCC, including rare and novel strains. The study also found that the genetic profile of MRSA indicates antibiotic misuse to be a contributory factor to the continuing evolution of MRSA.

“MBRU is committed to the latest, insightful and meaningful research in line with our mission to advance healthcare in the UAE and beyond. It’s an honor to collaborate with our esteemed colleagues on such a ground-breaking study,” said Professor Abiola Senok, Professor of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases at MBRU who led this research work.

“This research has produced some thought-provoking results and demonstrated that we need to act now to prevent more virulent and/or more drug-resistant strains from emerging. As we mark the World Antibiotics Awareness Week 2020 (Nov 18-24th), we are reminded that antibiotics are precious, and we all have a shared responsibility in preserving them through judicious use. Continuing surveillance and responsible use of antibiotics are crucial in combatting the rise and spread of the MRSA superbug”

The findings of the study are published in Scientific Reports (a leading scientific journal by Nature Research).