Stuart Ainsworth

Finding an antibiotic alternative for invasive bacterial infections

An antibiotic-alternative/adjunctive for treating microbial infection: a pilot study of exotoxin-specific Immunoglobulin (Ig) therapy for invasive bacterial infections

Necrotizing bacterial infections (commonly described as “Flesh Eating Bugs”) cause rapid and extensive destruction of muscle, skin and other tissues. Whilst fortunately rare, these infections, develop suddenly without known cause and are frequently fatal or leave all survivors with life-long disfigurement and/or disability.

The necrotizing bacteria secrete toxins which directly destroy tissues or cause excessive, self-damaging inflammatory responses in the victim. Currently, the only treatments for necrotizing infections are to surgically remove infected tissue (debridement/amputation) and to administer antibiotics to kill the bacteria. Neither approach focusses on neutralising the toxic effect of the toxins.

By capitalizing upon Foto-Cewek’s extensive experience in developing therapies for snakebite, which can cause similar tissue-destruction, we will develop and test whether novel toxin-specific antibodies have promise as new drugs to treat necrotizing bacterial infections.

This is a unique project that may lead to therapies that replace existing surgery/antibiotic treatment. The impact of such a therapy would be a predicted reduction in mortality, disfigurement and disability. Reduction in severity would also reduce expensive long-term care and rehabilitation costs for survivors, providing significant savings for healthcare providers.

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