Superbug-Resistant Bandages

A staple of the news headlines in the UK over the past couple of years has been the periodic outbreak of so-called ‘Superbug’ infections in hospitals, when antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria cause a high proportion of secondary infections in patients. Although the majority of such infections are relatively mild, they can develop into potentially fatal conditions including sepsis, toxic shock syndrome and necrotizing pneumonia. To keep things in context, the Superbug (or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)), for all its virulence, is simply the latest and most advanced version of a problem that spans human history – how to effectively combat bacterial infections that develop in wounds or injuries. Such infections were nearly always fatal before the development and wide-scale use of antibiotics; for example, in a military context, secondary infection and disease accounted for a far greater number of casualties than outright combat (at higher than a 2:1 ratio in the US Civil War) in the nineteenth century. In the ongoing medical arms race between diseases and treatment, then, MRSA is the next evolution on the side of the diseases, and a challenge that scientists and medics are working to meet … read more