Pharmacy Researchers Battle Antibiotic-Resistant Superbugs

SEPTEMBER 01, 2014
Eileen Oldfield, Associate Editor
New anti-superbug gel can penetrate the protective coating that makes certain bacteria resistant to traditional therapies.
Researchers from Queen’s University Belfast School of Pharmacy have created an antibacterial gel that can breakdown the protective coating that makes bacteria such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Staphoylococcus, and Escherichia coli resistant to conventional therapies.
According to the researchers, it is nearly impossible for modern antibiotic therapies to penetrate the protective biofilm layer of bacteria, which can create serious problems if the bacteria attach to medical implants or other surfaces. In the case of medical implants, the only course of action is removing the implant, which can cause additional pain and discomfort.
The gels use modified peptides to form antibacterial nanomaterials, which can reduce activity within biofilm coatings.  According to the study abstract, 2% weight by volume hydrogels reduced the biofilm on Staphylococcus epidermis by 94%.
“Our gels are unique as they target and kill the most resistant forms of hospital superbugs,” said lead researcher Garry Laverty, PhD, in the release.  “The molecules are modified slightly in the laboratory to allow them to form gels that will rapidly kill bacteria.”
Dr. Laverty and his colleagues developed the approach in conjunction with the Brandeis University School of Chemistry. Their study findings were published online July 28, 2014, in Biomacromolecules and will also be presented at the Academy of Pharmaceutical Sciences UK-PharmSci conference on September 8, 2014.