Amid the current drug-resistant bacteria crisis, it’s become increasingly apparent that past methods of combating germs no longer work. Scientists have developed new ways to protect us from these superbugs, with targeting biofilms being one of the more popular of these techniques. Researchers in Belfast have developed a gel that uses the anti-biofilm method and plan to distribute the product in hospitals throughout the world.
Researchers from the School of Pharmacy at Queen’s University in Norethern Ireland have devised an ingenious way to deal with the dangerous threat of superbugs in hospitals. Since the first developments of antibiotics in the early 19th century, scientists have gained a better grasp of how these microscopic organisms work. It has become clear that the individual bacteria are of limited harm to humans.
However, when many bacteria group together and form a biofilm, our health is threatened. The innovative gel is designed to target this biofilm, giving them the capability of killing bacteria that are resistant to other types of antibacterial products. “Our gels are unique as they target and kill the most resistant forms of hospital superbugs," said lead researcher Dr. Garry Laverty, the NY Daily News reported.
The gel works by using peptides, a natural component of human tissue, and then “these molecules are modified slightly in the laboratory to allow them to form gels that will rapidly kill bacteria" Garry explained. The peptides are then used to create gels that can break down the antibacterial resistance and finally kill the now vulnerable staph and E.coli bacteria.
The threat of drug-resistant superbugs is increasing in hospitals throughout the world. Healthday reported that in the American Southeast, community hospitals have seen a fivefold increase in the number of cases of these dangerous bacteria in only the past five years. "A CRE epidemic is fast approaching. We must take immediate and significant action in order to limit the transmission of these dangerous pathogens [germs] throughout our hospitals and acute care facilities," Dr. Joshua Thaden explained in HealthDay.
The World Health Organization has described these highly contagious and equally dangerous drug-resistant bacteria, also known as carbapenem-resistant enterobacteriaceae, as “an increasingly serious threat to global health that requires action.” The bacteria are known to cause infections in the urinary tract, lungs, blood, and other parts of the body, interfering with our ability to treat common infectious disease. Infection from these drug-resistant bacteria could result in disability of the individual, and in the most extreme cases, even death.