Belfast Telegraph

New skin patch could help tackle antibiotic resistance crisis, researchers say

A new skin patch could save many lives and tackle the antibiotic resistance crisis, researchers have said.

It administers drugs painlessly through thousands of individual microneedles.

Injection of antibiotics significantly reduces development of resistance amongst gut bacteria compared to using tablets.

Queen's University Belfast Professor Ryan Donnelly said: "We hope to show that this unique antibiotic patch prevents resistance development.

"If we are successful, this approach will significantly extend the lifespan of existing antibiotics, allowing time for development of the next generation of antibiotics. In doing so, this work has the potential to save many lives."

Resistance to antibiotics is one of the major challenges to 21st century medicine.

Among the biggest problems is that the huge majority of the drugs are taken orally, the researcher said.

A small quantity of the compound often finds its way into the colon, creating the perfect breeding ground for drug-resistant bacteria.

He added: "However, it is clearly impractical to expect patients to inject themselves at home, especially considering that 20% of people are needle-phobic.

"Admitting patients to hospital every time they need an antibiotic would quickly bankrupt healthcare providers."

The professor of pharmaceutical technology and his team hope to develop and evaluate the unique antibiotic patch, which he said can bypass the gut bacteria and extend the useful lifespan of currently-available antibiotics.

On the surface will be tiny needles that painlessly pierce the skin, turning into a jelly-like material that keeps the holes open and allows delivery of antibiotics into the skin for absorption into the bloodstream.

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