Skip to Content Skip to Navigation
2nd August 2023

“Super gel” developed to treat superbugs

Dr Katharina Richter, superbugs

A new “super gel” developed by local researchers is the latest weapon being used in the fight against antibiotic-resistant superbugs.

Superbugs such as Golden Staph are bacteria that develop resistance to antibiotics, estimated to cause 1.3 million deaths globally every year.

With funding from The Hospital Research Foundation Group, Dr Katharina Richter and her team from the University of Adelaide and Basil Hetzel Institute for Translational Health Research, have developed and patented the antibiotic-free “super gel” treatment to fight superbugs.

She said early studies had shown the gel to be effective and it was now ready to progress to pre-clinical trials.

“We embedded our treatment in a wound healing gel that is liquid at room temperature and solid at body temperature,” Dr Richter said.

“Most infected wounds, such as wounds at a surgical site, have an uneven surface. So being liquid at room temperature, the gel easily covers all areas of the wound and reaches even the small niches where Golden Staph loves to hide.

“After a few minutes the gel warms up to body temperature and becomes solid, therefore locking our treatment in place. This means we can get high concentrations of our treatment directly to the bacteria and expose them for longer to effectively kill them.

“The gel also promotes faster wound healing, is not toxic and boosts the potency of commonly used antibiotics.”

Dr Richter said their novel treatment had also been used to design a new type of surgical mesh for hernia surgery, known to be high-risk for infection.

“We showed that the new mesh prevents bacterial attachment and is not toxic. Therefore, our mesh has the potential to prevent Golden Staph infection after hernia repair surgery,” she said.

“Both our gel and surgical meshes are ready for pre-clinical trials for proof-of-concept, before translation into first-in-human trials. Both products have real potential to improve clinical outcomes after surgery.”

Thank you to our donors for supporting this incredible work!