Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Shining a light on an alternative treatment for MRSA

03.04.2006


Cosmetic considerations and a perceived lack of patent opportunities could be stopping the pharmaceutical and healthcare industries from investing in the development of a new therapy proven to be effective in the treatment of MRSA.



According to a leading scientist based at Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU) photodynamic or dye therapy could be an effective alternative therapy for the hospital superbug.

Around 5000 people die and many thousands more suffer long term complications in the UK every year as a result of infections caused by superbugs such as MRSA. These fatal bacterial infections are increasing because of drug resistance, most worryingly to vancomycin, the drug of last resort. Common disinfectant drugs, like mupirocin, are also becoming less and less effective.


Dr Mark Wainwright, a senior LJMU lecturer in medicinal chemistry, who has been researching the therapy for nearly 20 years, explained: “After decades of wonder drugs, man’s supremacy over the microbe is over. Over-prescription and misuse of antibacterial drugs are to blame for this rise in resistance and we urgently need to change the way in which we employ such valuable drugs.”

He continued: “Photodynamic therapy could be an effective alternative treatment. If antibiotics use a sniper’s approach to killing infections, dye therapy is like a hand grenade. Bacteria and viruses have no defence against the active oxygen it releases. The Darwinian argument of ‘survival of the fittest’ doesn’t apply because all of the bacterial cells are destroyed so they can’t develop resistance to the therapy. Its low human toxicity and the local/topical application of the drugs also mean that patients have fewer side effects.”

Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is a relatively straightforward and cheap therapy. It works by the topical application of light sensitive compounds (related to dyes) onto the infected area and then shining light onto it.

The light causes the dye to produce a highly reactive form of oxygen in situ, which if released close enough to a bacteria or virus, kills them, halting the infection.

The therapy doesn’t even require expensive lasers as the right wavelength can be provided by ordinary light sources.

At the moment, the therapy is limited to areas of the body accessible to light sources but this would still allow for the treatment of a wide range of bacterial diseases, skin infections, burns and wounds.

“An enormous amount of money is currently spent by the NHS every year on treating such conditions, many of which end up being colonised with MRSA,” said Dr Wainwright.

“These infections could be treated effectively using PDT out in the local community, helping prevent the introduction of potentially lethal infections into the hospital environment.”

Many of PDT’s light sensitive dyes – or photosensitisers – have been used clinically for a long time; many before the discovery of penicillin. One of the lead compounds, methylene blue, for example, was first used therapeutically in 1891 against malaria.

Photodynamic (dye) therapy has been successfully used to treat certain cancers for around 25 years, but so far the UK’s pharmaceutical and healthcare industries have been reluctant to investigate further uses.

Dr Wainwright believes that this is partly because photosensitisers are the poor relations in the pharmaceutical industry, often classified as textile dyes rather than drugs.

Potential profits are also limited because the dyes currently in use are already established, but novel compounds with new patent opportunities are available.

In addition, the effectiveness of photosensitisers as disinfectants has already been proved to great effect by the National Blood Service, who use photodisinfection to ensure the safety of blood plasma products.

Overseas, Russian scientists are using photosensitisers to treat multi-drug-resistant forms of TB, while dye therapy using another old dye, gentian violet, has been successful in the treatment of MRSA-infected patients in Japan.

So why hasn’t the UK’s pharmaceutical industry been more receptive?

Dr Wainwright believes cosmetic concerns may also be to blame. He explained: “There’s a general dislike of coloured staining medication and it’s true in the past patients were often heavily stained. But the stains are only temporary and as the number of life-threatening pathogens, such as MRSA, increases, surely this is a price worth paying if it saves lives?”

Dr Wainwright is now in pursuit of new funding to support clinical trials to test the efficacy of photobactericidal agents in the treatment of bacterial infections.

Shonagh Wilkie | alfa
Further information:
http://www.livjm.ac.uk

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Biofilm discovery suggests new way to prevent dangerous infections
23.05.2017 | University of Texas at Austin

nachricht Another reason to exercise: Burning bone fat -- a key to better bone health
19.05.2017 | University of North Carolina Health Care

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Turmoil in sluggish electrons’ existence

An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.

We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...

Im Focus: Wafer-thin Magnetic Materials Developed for Future Quantum Technologies

Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...

Im Focus: World's thinnest hologram paves path to new 3-D world

Nano-hologram paves way for integration of 3-D holography into everyday electronics

An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...

Im Focus: Using graphene to create quantum bits

In the race to produce a quantum computer, a number of projects are seeking a way to create quantum bits -- or qubits -- that are stable, meaning they are not much affected by changes in their environment. This normally needs highly nonlinear non-dissipative elements capable of functioning at very low temperatures.

In pursuit of this goal, researchers at EPFL's Laboratory of Photonics and Quantum Measurements LPQM (STI/SB), have investigated a nonlinear graphene-based...

Im Focus: Bacteria harness the lotus effect to protect themselves

Biofilms: Researchers find the causes of water-repelling properties

Dental plaque and the viscous brown slime in drainpipes are two familiar examples of bacterial biofilms. Removing such bacterial depositions from surfaces is...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

AWK Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium 2017: Internet of Production for Agile Enterprises

23.05.2017 | Event News

Dortmund MST Conference presents Individualized Healthcare Solutions with micro and nanotechnology

22.05.2017 | Event News

Innovation 4.0: Shaping a humane fourth industrial revolution

17.05.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Scientists propose synestia, a new type of planetary object

23.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Zap! Graphene is bad news for bacteria

23.05.2017 | Life Sciences

Medical gamma-ray camera is now palm-sized

23.05.2017 | Medical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>