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Project MRSA Fagen IWT: Phage encoded endolysins as a new treatment option against MRSA in pigs

Duration of the project

Starting date: 01/01/2010
Ending date: 31/11/2013

Operational Direction

Bacterial Diseases

ROLE OF CODA-CERVA in this project



Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) are multi-drug resistant bacteria that cause severe problems in human medicine. A new reservoir of MRSA was discovered recently in pigs, but different domestic and non-domestic studies show that other species may be colonised as well.


Two types are described for human beings: the hospital-acquired HA-MRSA and community-associated MRSA (CA-MRSA). The bacteria cause serious infections often leading to a fatal outcome. The rare HA-MRSA infections described among horses and dogs were caused by human contamination during surgery.


Animal-associated MRSA create a potential danger for both animal and public health. These animal-associated MRSA first of all complicate the diagnosis as it is difficult to distinguish them from the more dangerous human HA-MRSA and secondly its virulence may vary. This animal-associated MRSA, which can maintain itself in various ecosystems, may also acquire virulence characteristics located on mobile genetic elements, thus becoming a highly pathogenic strain. Hence, a proactive approach is needed. As MRSA found among animals are very clonal, and as phages generally have a very strict host range, phage-coded endolysins are a highly suitable option of combating specific MRSA in the animal reservoir. As S. aureus and therefore MRSA also colonise epithelial tissues such as the skin and the nose, these phage enzymes can be deposited on these surfaces.


The aim of this project is to eliminate MRSA in pigs, or at least achieve a significant reduction in the level of colonisation, thus lowering or preventing the risk of humans being infected. To achieve this, phage endolysins are over-produced in E. coli or Pichia pastoris. They are purified for use in the in vivo treatment of experimentally infected animals.


- Scientist responsible for this project

- Team

  • Karlien Nerinckx

- External partners

- Source of funding