Scientists have created a revolutionary drug that targets antibiotic-resistant superbugs, most notably methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA or Marsa).
Marsa bacteria are known to be resistant to a number of widely available antibiotics, which makes them very difficult to treat.
When the MRSA bacteria get deep into the skin, it can cause swelling, pain, pus, fever, chills, and even dizziness and confusion.
Scientists used “live medicine” to fight antibiotic-resistant germs that infect hospital patients through catheters and breathing tubes.
A team of researchers in Spain modified the bacterium Mycoplasma pneumoniae, which causes mild pneumonia in people with low immune systems, to remove its ability to cause damage and redirect it to attack other dangerous germs instead.
So far, “live medicine” has only been tested on experimental mice, but the results were promising, which makes scientists plan to start experiments on people with lung infection from breathing tubes in 2023.
It is hoped that the bacteria will work with other hospital superbugs such as MRSA. Scientists say the germs clump together to form “biofilms” that antibiotics cannot penetrate. But the modified bacteria cut the thin biofilm and destroy the spores using special enzymes.
Scientists hailed the discovery as a major advance in the battle against the growing problem of antibiotic resistance. And if antibiotics don’t work in the future, patients may die of infection after operations such as hip replacement and cesarean delivery.
Biofilms have proven to be particularly resistant to immune systems and drugs, and can lie dormant for long periods of time before perishing.
Studies have shown that bacteria congregated in biofilms are 10 to 100 times more resistant to antibiotics than their free-flowing counterparts.
Marsa is the most common type of bacteria associated with biofilms. But its breakthrough may be around the corner thanks to Spanish researchers.
“Our technology is designed to meet all safety and efficacy criteria for application in the lung, with respiratory disease as one of the first targets,” explained Dr. Maria Luch, biotechnologist at the Center for Regulating Genomes (CRG) in Barcelona and study leader.
“Bacteria are an ideal medium for live medicine because they can carry any particular therapeutic protein to treat the source of the disease,” added the study’s co-lead researcher, Professor Luis Serrano, from the Genome Regulatory Center in Barcelona.
The results appear to be very promising and welcome because biofilm infections can cause sepsis and death, especially in intensive care units. However, there is a long and expensive path ahead to see if the method actually works in patients with resistant biofilm infections.
The researchers engineered the bacteria to produce two enzymes that kill Staphylococcus aureus. Patients can take the new treatment as a spray in the nose or throat.
The researchers, who spent 15 years working on the technology, say injecting the treatment under the skin of mice cleared the infection from the catheter in 82 percent of the animals. The bacteria persisted for four to seven days before the immune system eliminated them.
Source: Daily Mail
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