Bacteria-killing stitches could fight MRSA01/04/2008 - 12:15:12
Stitches and dressings laced with bacteria-killing viruses could help stop the spread of superbug MRSA in operating theatres, scientists said today.
Researchers in Glasgow have developed a way of bonding infection-fighting agents to material such as nylon.
The tiny beads work by growing inside the bug-causing bacteria then bursting out to attack others, while leaving healthy cells alone.
Sutures – the hospital thread used to stitch up patients during operations - could host the viruses, reducing the chance of patients developing an infection.
Similarly, wound dressings impregnated with the agents would prevent the spread of bacteria.
Tests saw the devices kill 96% of MRSA strains from patients in three different hospitals.
Janice Spencer, from the University of Strathclyde, said: “Some bacteria specific viruses – called bacteriophages – have been used in the past to help clear up infections caused by bacteria, but their use died out when antibiotics like penicillin and methicillin became widely available.
“We are looking at them again now that multiple antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria have become such a problem in hospitals.”
Bacteria are found on healthy peoples’ skin – it is only when our immune system is weakened by illness or when the bacteria gets inside our bodies during an operation that they can cause harm.
Some bacteria have become resistant to antibiotics, making infections very difficult to treat.
The research team has also developed a device that allows rapid detection of MRSA on contaminated surfaces.
Using the device, hospital staff would be able to screen patients before surgery to limit the chances of them passing on an infection.
“Simple and effective rapid detection of bacteria is important to limit the chance of infection occurring in the first place”, said Dr Spencer.
“Patients who are carriers for MRSA can be isolated and decontaminated by using standard methods or by using immobilised bacteriophages incorporated into creams or body washes”.
Dr Spencer presented the research at the Society for General Microbiology’s 162nd meeting at Edinburgh International Conference Centre today.
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