Germany-based Hyglos and scientists from the universities of Tübingen, Münster and Munich join forces to develop a phage-based active substance against the dreaded hospital pathogen Staphylococcus aureus. 

Their secret lies in a highly effective protein from bacteria-specific viruses, the so-called bacteriophages, capable of rapidly killing the bacteria, which frequently occur in the nose. Due to the specific action of this protein, the natural microflora is maintained. This prophylactic treatment could counteract the spread of methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in hospitals and, thereby, prevent patients from infections.

“We do like to describe it as a MRSA-killing protein, even if it sounds somewhat sensational” explains Dr. Wolfgang Mutter from Hyglos GmbH.

According to experts, one person in three carries the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus in their nose. It is not dangerous in the case of healthy individuals, but can quickly become a problem if the carrier is admitted to a hospital. The pathogen can then insert inself into wounds and potentially cause dangerous infections, increasing the risk of spreading thi all across the hospital. MRSA, in particular, are feared because of their resistance to many of the commonly used antibiotics.

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The bacteria are more and more resistant to the currently used antibiotics and the duration of the decolonization and follow-up control takes about a week. Under such circumstances, no effective MRSA prevention is available for patients with immediate need of surgery.

In fact, all Staphylococcus aureus cells, whether resistant or non-resistant, will be killed by this new active substance within a very short amount of time. The substance also prevents the natural microflora in the nose from being destroyed and strengthens resistance.

More than 1.5 million euros will be provided to support the development of the protein. The substance will first be manufactured and subsequently be tested for preclinical toxicology. A stable formulation will be developed, so that the substance may be conveniently and safely administered as a gel or in any other form to the patient.

A solution to resistant hospital germs is crucial and politicians are starting to see the potential. Next week, the G7 will debate on antibiotic resistance. Let’s hope they grasp the urgent situation and the need of a new weapon against hospital bugs.

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