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 Researchers identify new way to unmask melanoma cells to the immune system
17.01.2018 | Duke University Medical Center

nachricht Study advances gene therapy for glaucoma
17.01.2018 | University of Wisconsin-Madison

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: Scientists decipher key principle behind reaction of metalloenzymes

So-called pre-distorted states accelerate photochemical reactions too

What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...

Im Focus: The first precise measurement of a single molecule's effective charge

For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.

Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...

Im Focus: Paradigm shift in Paris: Encouraging an holistic view of laser machining

At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.

No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...

Im Focus: Room-temperature multiferroic thin films and their properties

Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Tohoku University have developed high-quality GFO epitaxial films and systematically investigated their ferroelectric and ferromagnetic properties. They also demonstrated the room-temperature magnetocapacitance effects of these GFO thin films.

Multiferroic materials show magnetically driven ferroelectricity. They are attracting increasing attention because of their fascinating properties such as...

Im Focus: A thermometer for the oceans

Measurement of noble gases in Antarctic ice cores

The oceans are the largest global heat reservoir. As a result of man-made global warming, the temperature in the global climate system increases; around 90% of...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

10th International Symposium: “Advanced Battery Power – Kraftwerk Batterie” Münster, 10-11 April 2018

08.01.2018 | Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Polymers Based on Boron?

18.01.2018 | Life Sciences

Bioengineered soft microfibers improve T-cell production

18.01.2018 | Life Sciences

World’s oldest known oxygen oasis discovered

18.01.2018 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>