Scientists have recently developed a pioneering new therapy to prevent bacterial skin infections, which could be used in fighting ‘superbugs’, equivalent to MRSA.
The new therapy, developed by means of researchers on the University of Sheffield in collaboration with AGE UK, is a new strategy to prevent skin wounds, reminiscent of bed-sores and ulcers, from becoming infected.
This new therapy has been verified to work on antibiotic-resistant bacteria, such as MRSA, which is presently some of the biggest threats to world healthcare.
Bacterial skin infections are a primary crisis for the elderly and people with chronic health conditions, comparable to diabetes. Contaminated wounds heal more slowly, inflicting affliction and misery for the sufferer, and are a huge expense to the NHS within the UK.
To start an infection, bacteria attach tightly to skin cells and have learned to hijack ‘sticky patches’ on human cells to acquire this. Using proteins known as tetraspanins, from human cells, the Sheffield scientists have made these patches a lot much less sticky, allowing microorganisms to be harmlessly washed away.
The study has shown that these proteins can prevent bacterial infections in human skin, which the scientists say give a clear indication that this therapy is both safe and effective.
This therapy was based on a model of 3D tissue engineered skin (TEskin) developed by engineers on the University.
The engineered skin, created by Professor Sheila MacNeil from the University’s of Materials Science and Engineering, can model contaminated wounds in human skin and mimics the tissue constitution of usual adult skin. It can be used to analyse the penetration of peptides and microorganisms.
Dr Pete Monk who led the study, said: This development is a huge breakthrough in the fight against antibiotic-resistance. Skin infections, such as bed-sores and ulcers, can be incredibly troubling for patients who may already be dealing with debilitating conditions. They are also a significant problem for modern healthcare. We hope that this new therapy can be used to help relieve the burden of skin infections on both patients and health services while also providing a new insight into how we might defeat the threat of antimicrobial drug resistance. The therapy could be administered to patients using a gel or cream and could work well as a dressing. We’re hoping it can reach clinical trials stage in the next three to five years.
Unlike conventional antibiotics, the tetraspanin proteins don’t kill bacteria outright and do not encourage the evolution of resistance. Now, with study funding from the Humane Research Trust, Sheffield scientists are establishing the proteins for new anti-bacterial dressings so that it will help keep wounds sterile and so promote fast cure.
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