Scientists have developed an antibiotic-free drug to treat MRSA.
A patient trial has indicated that the drug is effective at disposing of the MRSA superbug. Scientists state that the infection may develop resistance to the new treatment, which is available in cream-form for skin infections.
It has been reported that researchers hope to develop an injectable or pill version of this drug within a period of five years.
Around 5000 deaths are caused each year due to antibiotic-resistant strains of the disease. The last time a new class of antibiotics was produced was during the 1980s and scientists are of the opinion that new approaches are required to overcome drug-resistant infections.
The new treatment works in a completely different manner than conventional drugs and targets only the Staphylococcus bacteria which is responsible for MRSA and does not affect other microbes.
Dr Bjorn Herpers, a clinical microbiologist at the Dutch biotech firm behind this new advance, Micreos, said the results indicate that the technology could potentially revolutionise the way in which certain bacterial infections are treated. He said with the increase in prevalence of multidrug-resistant bacteria, there is a need for new methods of treating bacterial infections. He added that endolysins are less prone to resistance than antibiotics, but it also only destroys their target bacterial species and ignores the beneficial bacteria.
The new treatment depends on naturally occurring viruses which attack bacteria by using enzymes, termed endolysins. It makes use of a ‘designer’ endolysin, Staphefekt, which was engineered by the scientists to attach to the surface of the bacterial cells and cause their destruction.
With conventional antibiotics the inside of the cell is targeted and one of the reasons why it becomes ineffective is that some strains of bacteria, like MRSA, have acquired impenetrable membranes. Endolysins target the basic building blocks on the outer part of the bacterial cells. These are not likely to change as the genetic mutation of infections continues over time.
Image Credit: NIAID