Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Market trends: New drug fights MRSA

Scientists at Destiny Pharma in the UK hope they have developed a drug which can destroy the most virulent strains of MRSA. Destiny is dedicated to the development of novel antimicrobial products. Their XF series compounds have a mechanism of action that is fundamentally different from all existing antibiotics. As a result, it may offer potential advantages in controlling the drug-resistant bacteria that are becoming more common both in the community and hospital setting. Destiny are currently testing the drug, XF-73, in the clinic and it may potentially be available in hospitals by 2011.

Photo: Destiny Pharmaceuticals

Study results of the new drug, which is applied as a gel into patients’ noses, showed methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus bacteria (MRSA) did not develop resistance to the compound despite being exposed to it 55 times. XF-73 has been extensively studied in vitro and shows great potential. To date, it has shown:

* Rapid bactericidal activity
* No emergence of resistance in stringent multi-passage testing
* Broad spectrum of activity against Gram-positive bacteria, including multiple strains of MRSA

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infection is a global problem. First reported in the early 1960s, MRSA can cause life-threatening infections in patients admitted to hospitals. When such infections occur, they are known as healthcare-associated MRSA (HA-MRSA). Many hospitals in the UK now have MRSA specific teams to handle the infections.

Photograph: BBC

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 57% of Staphylococcus aureus found in US hospitals in 2002 were methicillin-resistant, compared with just 2% in 1974. There has been a dramatic increase in MRSA resistance in the UK from 2% in 1990 to >40% in the early 2000s. Today, 60-70% of all ITU (Intensive Therapy Units) Staphylococcus aureus infections in the US and the UK are methicillin resistant.

Approximately one-third of patients who carry MRSA develop infection, including the more serious invasive infection – which may result in death. The mortality rate from MRSA blood infection is 64% and there has been a 15-fold increase in MRSA-associated deaths since 1993 (see graph below). Unfortunately this is becoming a public health issue on a global scale unless new treatments are developed and marketed to destroy MRSA.

Adapted from "Hospital stays with MRSA infections 1993-2005
Source: AHRQ, Center for Delivery, Organization and Markets, Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project, Nationwide Inpatient Sample, 1993-2005."

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