TARGETING a toxin released by virtually all strains of MRSA could help scientists develop drugs that can fight the superbug.
The study has discovered a toxin, called SElX, which pushes the body's immune system into overdrive and damages healthy cells.
The toxin is created by 95pc of Staphylococcus aureus bacteria, including MRSA strains linked with hospital-acquired infections.
When released it triggers an "over-multiplication" of immune cells which can lead to high fever, toxic shock and potentially fatal lung infections.
Scientists said the study, led by the University of Edinburgh, will help research to find drugs which could target SElX and prevent damage to healthy cells.
Dr Ross Fitzgerald, from the university's Roslin Institute, said: "If we can find ways to target this toxin, we can stop it from triggering an over-reaction of the body's immune system and prevent severe infections."