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Meet Staphefekt, breakthrough drug to help humans fight superbugs

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Staphefekt, an alternate drug to antibiotics, can help humans battle the Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) superbug.

Scientists suggest that the MRSA superbug is resistant against most antibiotics. However, Staphefekt can target the Staphylococcus bacteria, which causes MRSA. The researchers also suggest that it is highly unlikely for the superbug to develop a resistance against Staphefekt.

Specialist creams of the drug are already in use to treat certain skin conditions such as eczema, acne and other skin irritations. Researchers are hoping to develop a pill or an injectable version of the drug in the next five years.

The biotech firm unveiled the latest discovery at the EuroSciCon meeting, Antibiotics Alternatives for the New Millennium, in London on Wednesday, Nov. 5. Dr. Bjorn Herpers, Clinical Microbiologist at Public Health Lab, suggests that the results of the new drug are exciting and shows its potential to treat bacterial infections.

"With the increasing prevalence of multi-drug-resistant bacteria, new strategies for the treatment of bacterial infections are needed. As well as being less prone to resistance induction than antibiotics, endolysins (enzymes) destroy only their target bacterial species, leaving the beneficial bacteria alone," says [pdf] Dr. Herpers.

Micreos claims that Staphefekt is the first endolysin, a bacteria-killing enzyme, which can be used on human skin. The cream version of the drug has already been tested on humans with severe skin conditions. The drug completely killed infection causing bacteria and did not leave any resistance to the drug. Scientists also found that Staphefekt did not affect other beneficial bacteria.

Scientists suggest that initial trial of the drug was limited to just some type of skin conditions. The company is also conducting clinical trials on other types of skin infections.

Dame Sally Davies, chief medical officer of the UK, cautioned in 2013 that there is a rise in antibiotic-resistant superbugs, which may lead to severe medical issues throughout the world. Antimicrobial resistance will mean that people may die just due to minor infections. Moreover, basic operations may also become deadly. She also compared the antibiotic resistance to natural disasters and terrorism.

The World Health Organization (WHO) suggests that about 50,000 people in the U.S. and Europe die due to drug resistant bacteria per year, which involves a cost of about $14 billion.

Staphefekt will help treat deadly MRSA infections and save the lives of thousands of people each year. The technology behind the drug is estimated to be made available freely all over the world for research purposes.

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