A drug that may hold the key to eliminating deadly superbugs has been developed by British scientists.
The new anti-bacterial drug, code-named XF-73, kills superbugs within five minutes, meaning deadly bacteria have little chance of developing any resistance to it.
"Resistance to antibiotics is seriously undermining the ability of the medical profession to treat bacterial infections," the Daily Express quoted Ian Chopra, of University of Leeds as saying.
"Society urgently requires the discovery and development of new anti-bacterial drugs that have a different method of action and minimal potential for the development of resistance. XF-73 fulfils this need. The bactericidal potency of these drugs is remarkable," he said.
MRSA did not show any resistance to the new drug in clinical tests, even after 55 repeat exposures.
Scientists believe XF-73 could be used to prevent the spread of infection on hospital wards within three years.
During tests, carriers of superbug bacteria had XF-73 gel placed inside their noses. The bugs were completely eradicated with no side effects.
Bill Love, of Destiny Pharma, the Sussex pharmaceutical company behind the new product, said: "This is a major breakthrough.
"Thousands of lives could be saved by destroying bugs in patients before they become susceptible to infections through medical procedures such as operations."
F-73 works differently from antibiotics by breaking down cell walls and causing the rapid loss of its vital contents. Antibiotics act by destroying specific parts of bacteria to disable them, a process that takes much longer.
"We believe XF-73 holds the key to preventing the major cause of hospital bacterial infections worldwide," said Love.
Although it was discovered eight years ago, the results of its clinical trials were announced last week at the Interscience Congress on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy in Boston, US.
Derek Butler, MRSA Action UK, welcomed the new drug.
He said: "There is always the fear that bacteria will develop resistance to the only medication available to eradicate MRSA from a patient who carries the bugs.
"We are aware not everyone can be decolonised from MRSA using the present treatment available so this new development of treatment has shown great promise."