A new gel could help in the fight against deadly, drug-resistant superbugs

A new antibacterial ointment could help take down drug-resistant bacteria.

In human skin samples and mice, the medicine completely cleared wounds of MRSA, the strain of Staphylococcus aureus that is resistant to methicillin and other antibiotics, and antibiotic-resistant Acinetobacter baumannii. Both microbes are known to cause serious infections in hospital patients. Researchers in the Netherlands created the gel’s key ingredient, a chain of amino acids called SAAP-148, by improving on a bacteria-fighting peptide found in humans.

The synthetic peptide prevents pathogens from forming biofilms — colonies of microbes enveloped in a protective slime that shields them from antibiotics, the researchers report online January 10 in Science Translational Medicine. 

“This peptide could provide a much-needed boost to our arsenal of antibiotics,” says David Weiss, a microbiologist at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, who wasn’t involved in the work.

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