MRSA light treatment
7 Healthcast: MRSA light treatment
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Methicillin resistant staph aureus, or MRSA, is a potentially serious, even deadly infection. It's often called a superbug because it is resistant to some antibiotics.
There may be another way to treat these infections in the near future, with the help of a light.
That's right, a flip of a switch could be the answer to battling these bacteria. Dermatologist Rox Anderson at the Wellman Center at Massachusetts General Hospital is one of the researchers.
"In a nutshell, it's harnessing the energy of light transforming it into chemical reactions that are toxic to bacteria but not to you," Anderson said.
In animal studies, the MRSA bacteria was applied to a superficial wound, then a common dye was applied, followed by a light source.
"We use deeply penetrating light because we want it to go as deep as we can and that tends to be red light," Anderson said.
In about 15 minutes the treatment is over and the bacteria are dead.
Rapid treatment is a benefit of light therapy because even if antibiotics worked, they would take at least a day or two to kick in.
The future of using light therapy to treat infections is looking bright.
"To be able to make the diagnosis of infection rapidly doing microscopy right on the patient, then be able to treat them at the time using light and I think we're getting close to that," Anderson said.
The next step is to use light therapy to treat infections in humans. One population that researchers will be studying are those in the military that are coming home with many drug resistant infections.(Copyright 2007 Sunbeam Television. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)