Yeast and tea tree oil kill MRSA superbug

Manchester Metropolitan University is working with a cutting edge technology firm to find a treatment for the hospital superbug MRSA which kills 5,000 patients each year.

MMU scientists and North West company Micap have spent two years researching antimicrobial agents to tackle the infection, known as a “superbug” for its resistance to antibiotics.

The outcome is a blend of yeast and essential oils, including tea tree oil, which attacks and kills the bug.

Clinical trials of the new treatment are about to start on 40 burns patients at Wythenshawe Hospital, who have been diagnosed as having MRSA on their skin.

Dr Val Edwards Jones, a microbiologist in MMU’s Dalton Research Institute, said: “New treatments are urgently needed to combat the problem of antibiotic resistance, particularly in hospitals.

“At MMU we have believed for some time that the antimicrobial action of oils can tackle MRSA and we have come up with a blend and a method of applying that blend.”

“We have successfully used Micap’s patented technique which uses dead yeast cells as a shell for applying the mixture in a wound dressing.”

Micap Chief Executive Michael Brennand said: “Essentially this produces a complex killing mechanism to combat MRSA. It is a simple concept but we care very excited about it and its potential.”

Tests in Micap’s laboratories at Newton-le-Willows have involved a PhD researcher from MMU and Dr Edwards Jones as consultant microbiologist.

Jointly MMU and Micap have won a grant from the Hospital Infection Society to fund the trials. The partners have also applied for a major grant from the DTI to further develop other innovative projects and uses for the technology.

For further details of the Institute’s research in biology go to: http://www.sci-eng.mmu.ac.uk/biology/research/research.htm

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