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23.05.2018 10:15

Study on Treatment for Hospital Superbugs Wins Health Science Prize

This year’s Health Science Prize has been awarded to the research study led by Dr Daniel López Serrano (Murcia, 1977), of the National Centre for Biotechnology (CNB) in Madrid, on a promising new treatment for hospital superbugs. The 25,000-euro prize will be presented on 8 June. The annual Health Science Awards, now in their fourteenth year, are run by the Caja Rural de Granada Foundation to recognise the achievements of scientists working on topics related to the priority lines of research at the Granada Health Science Technological Park (PTS).

Dr Daniel López Serrano.

In 2016, 30% of infections contracted in Spanish hospitals were caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and 20% of those resulted in death. Staphylococcus aureus is one of the most dangerous bacteria in hospital settings because many clinical isolates are resistant to penicillin (MRSA strains). Dr López Serrano’s lab has found a way to destroy the bacteria’s protective shield so that they can be ‘attacked’ by conventional antibiotics.

Dr López Serrano says that his findings are of dual importance. Firstly, the study describes a new and potentially life-saving treatment for MRSA infections, which could help relieve symptoms in the thousands of patients who contract these superbugs in Spanish hospitals each year. Secondly, the new treatment could mean that antibiotics ruled out as treatment options because of their inability to fight superbugs, which are becoming more and more common in Spanish hospitals, could be brought back into use. “This means we'll have many more tools we can use to fight these bugs and we can be optimistic about our fight against infections by multidrug-resistant bacteria.”

The study was chosen as the winner of this year's award because it "tackles one of the most important problems in medicine today: antibiotic resistance in aggressive bacteria, proposing an innovative procedure to make them sensitive to antibiotics again.” This year's judges were Ignacio Molina (Biomedical Research Centre), Lourdes Núñez (PTS Andalusian Public Foundation), Javier Martín and Elena González (López Neyra Institute), Jorge Fernández (College of Physicians), Fernando Martínez (College of Pharmacists) and Aurea Bordons (Autonomous Government of Andalusia).