A Halifax researcher has made promising findings in the fight against one of the superbugs infecting cities and hospitals across Canada.
David Jakeman said yesterday the results are sufficiently promising that his lab wants to repeat the experiments as well as evaluate other compounds with similar structures.
“It’s all very preliminary at the moment,” he cautioned.
“Some of those natural products we’ve isolated, we’ve shown they have good activity against MRSA and that’s why we’re exploring more fully the compounds that these bacteria produce,” David Jakeman said.
The need for a new antibiotic aimed at curtailing the infection appears to be growing.
Superbugs such as MRSA have become a modern-day scourge, killing between 8,000 and 12,000 Canadians annually. The U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta estimated 94,000 cases of MRSA in the U.S. in 2005, 19,000 of them resulting in fatalities.
Across Canada the infection is spreading. A medical study published this month said that the number of people living in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside and carrying the superbug has jumped 150 per cent in the past six years.
Calgary Health Region statistics reported an increase in the infection, from 588 people with MRSA in 2006 to 1,020 in 2007.
And Windsor health officials said hospital-acquired superbug infections— including MRSA — are up 35 per cent over the last eight months.
The rise in the infection has prompted the federal government to back an estimated $1-million program designed to educate front-line health-care workers about the importance of regular hand-washing. The program launches April 1.
Phil Hassen, CEO of the Canadian Patient Safety Institute in Edmonton, said every breakthrough is helpful, but that in the short-term they need to continue to emphasize such practices as hand-washing.
“Everything helps,” he said. “It could be a great solution for a period, but we have other things on the table that are going to create problems for us and we just have to find different ways (to deal with superbugs).”
David Jakeman warned the cure is still years and millions of dollars off. His lab-brewed microbe would still need to undergo toxicity tests, animal testing and human trails before making it to market.
…this post forwarded by Windsor Humanist, Alexander Neil, after a February 27, 2008 article by Charles Mandel in The Montréal Gazette