New active agent against hospital pathogens

Scientists from Tübingen and Munich universities are working with the company HyPharm GmbH to develop an active agent to be used against the dreaded hospital pathogen Staphylococcus aureus. The active agent is a highly effective protein from bacteriophages that specifically kills these bacteria that are frequently found in the nose. Preventing colonisation in the nose could particularly counteract the spreading of the methicillin-resistant pathogen (MRSA) in hospitals and prevent infections in patients.

„We are confident that this MRSA-killing protein - as we do like to describe it, even if it sounds somewhat sensational - will be a success within DZIF. “
Dr. Wolfgang Mutter
HYpharm GmbH

Background

Experts estimate that every third person hosts the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus in their nose. While it is normally harmless, this bacterium can quickly become problematic for patients in the hospital. If it enters wounds during surgery, it can cause serious infections. The methicillin-resistant strains are particularly feared as common antibiotics for these are no longer effective. In order to combat these pathogens in good time, mupirocin is currently used. However, the bacteria are also becoming increasingly resistant to this antibiotic.

HY-133, the name of the new active agent made of bacteriophages, could be a solution to the dilemma. The phage lysin was produced artificially and has shown a high specificity against Staphylococcus aureus cells. Harmless bacteria in the nose are unaffected.

Development

The protein was produced by the company Hypharm (formerly Hyglos) together with scientists at the university hospital in Münster and its effect was improved. The “designer molecule” has been further developed at the DZIF for three or four years and is being prepared for clinical testing. As an alternative to the animal model, tests have already been conducted with human skin models that have delivered excellent results. The team has also been working on the formulation as a hydrogel.

Partner

For this project, the DZIF is collaborating with the company HyPharm.