This method of combating infections could help millions of patients who deal with drug-resistant bacteria.

For 2016 alone, the American Burn Association estimated that 486,000 people underwent treatment. As if burns weren’t already debilitating enough, many of these same people then have to deal with secondary infections that can prove especially complicated to treat.

In fact, per a report from the National Institutes of Health, infection is the primary cause for 75 percent of all cases in which a person experiences burns over at least 40 percent of their body. As Medscape pointed out, there are several ways to treat burn infections – specialized vaccines, antibacterial ointments, etc. – but they’re not always effective.
Now, though, there is new hope courtesy of a team from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.

New level of burn treatment

In a recent study in the journal Scientific Reports, the UT team unveiled a groundbreaking new way to prevent infections from multidrug-resistant bacteria. For the study, the researchers use rats who had been exposed to the bacterial strain pseudomonas aeruginosa, which the UT staff said is found in 33 percent of all burn cases. To combat the bacteria, the team applied Multivalent Adhesion Molecule 7, a special inhibitor molecule it had developed specifically for these trials.

In just 24 hours, MAM7 was able to significantly reduce the number of bacteria within a given burn model. And just how did it prove so effective? Rather than killing each bacterium, MAM7 effectively “blinds” everything. As lead author Dr. Steven Wolf explained, bacteria that can’t “see” aren’t able to grow and multiply, and that halts the infection right in its tracks.

In an accompanying press release, co-author Dr. Kim Orth expanded upon what makes MAM7 so much more effective than other options for burn infections.

“Our approach doesn’t target bacterial survival; rather it targets the microbes’ ability to damage the host — its virulence,” she said. “There is no reason for the bacteria to become resistant to this approach. Being unable to bind to wounded tissue is an inconvenience, and the bacteria move on.”

“If all the parking spaces are filled, then the bacteria have no place to park,” Dr. Orth later added.

The UT team made several different forms of MAM7 before finding that a topical application was the optimal choice. Not only does this form of MAM7 – which is coupled with various microbeads – work in under a day, it also sticks around for at least 96 hours without impeding normal wound healing. But the benefits of time are only part of the appeal of MAM7.

As researchers find new ways to counter antibiotic-resistant bacteria, the UT team believes MAM7 is an effective choice for its broad-spectrum applications, meaning it can defeat several different strains. Once it’s been further proven in rats, the UT collective will begin trials of MAM7 with humans, opening up all new treatment possibilities for patients everywhere.

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