Researchers have confirmed that two experimental antibiotics from the United States and Switzerland have shown promising results in fighting the methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) superbug.
US pharmaceutical Paratek said on Sunday a new class of antibiotic it has developed called PTK 0896 was 98 percent efficient in countering MRSA - 5.0 percent more efficient than rival Pfizer's Zyvox drug - according to its phase ii clinical trial on 234 patients,
Switzerland's bio-pharmaceutical company Arpida said its Iclaprim drug administered intravenously was able to cure MRSA infection in 92.3 percent of patients.
Arpida recently submitted Iclaprim to approval by the US Food and Drug Administration. Company president Jurgen Raths said he expected FDA approval for the drug in January.
MRSA has shot to prominence in recent years as many people catch the bug while being treated in hospitals - leading to doctors in Britain being banned from wearing their traditional white coats in favour of plastic aprons in a bid to reduce the risks of transmission.
In the United States, MRSA is the cause of more than 60 percent of all hospital infections. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Preventions, MRSA in 2005 infected 94,000 people and killed 19,000 in the United States.
Despite Sunday's announced developments in fighting MRSA, some scientists were not optimistic and said the medical community was still basically powerless against the deadly bug.
"Most of these compounds are from classes that we already knew about, which is disappointing," Johnson and Johnson Pharmaceutical Research and development chief Karen Bush told the 48th annual Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents held this weekend in Washington.
She said there were antibiotics-resistant MRSA strains still "circulating and we cannot find any drugs that are working against them. So I still believe we have a major challenge."
Dr. Michael Scheld, of the University of Virginia School of Medicine, said "there is almost nothing in the pipeline now ... We as clinicians have nothing that we can obtain to treat these multidrug-resistant organisms for least probably five to 10 years."
Paratek Pharmaceutical researcher Robert Arbeit said the medical community needed "new paradigms that includes the concept of prevention as well as treatment."
"That approach of trying to prevent those organisms from getting established ... by a classic vaccine approach ... or by just giving another antibiotic ... that doesn't work very well because that organism will eventually" become resistant.
"But this idea of trying to prevent infection by going at the mechanism of the organism, I think that's the kind of paradigm shift we need."