Lugdunin could help stem the tide against the deadly staphylococcus aureus bacterium.

Of all the many bacteria in the world, staphylococcus aureus may be the most detrimental to preventing wound infections and treating existing injuries.

This strain has helped to usher in the era of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, per a 2010 review in Nature Reviews Microbiology, and S. aureus is among the most potent of all microbes. It’s no wonder than that S. aureus was the cause of 11.6 million ER visits between 2001 and 2003, according to a 2006 report in Emerging Infectious Diseases with patients suffering either skin or soft tissue infections. And, as the Los Angeles Times reported, over 11,000 people die each year from S. aureus infections. There is even some research that indicates that S. aureus may be linked to a higher risk for diabetes.

Though research continues into new methods to defeat this microbial scourge, new hope rests closer than we might have imagined.

A cavity of hope

In a brand new study in the journal Nature, a group of German scientists have found that the human body may contain a powerful new antibiotic – right in the nose.

The team from the University of Tubingen uncovered a bacteria called staphylococcus lugdunensis. Its accompanying compound, called lugdunin, is one of the first new forms of antibiotics discovered in some 30-plus years. Lugdunin is effective because it can prevent S. aureus from replicating, which it can do without raising the bacteria’s defenses. That means lugdunin can work for an extended period compared to some other antibiotic compounds or substances.

It took some work to actually uncover lugdunin, and the German researchers examined the human nose only to find 90 varying samples. The team has applied lugdunin to mice lesions, and within a few hours the injuries were healing and infections had begun to subside. Though the team admitted that the discovery of lugdunin was mostly unexpected, the human body is quite full of powerful bacteria, and those in the mouth or guts can help prevent a number of illnesses.

A greater scope

Eventually, the German team hopes to move lugdunin research into human trials and get some additional support from a pharmaceutical company. In the meantime, the scientists are continuing their research in other ways. That includes examining why some people are more prone to illness than others, which may be due to the presence of different substances like lugdunin. Because, as the Washington Post pointed out, only 10 percent of all people contain the lugdunensis bacteria. And when the researchers examined 187 hospital patients, that rate fell to 6 percent.

The German team also plans to look for other powerful antibiotics elsewhere in the human body. Who knows what else we might discover to improve wound care and personal health in general?

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