When Mariana Bridi, the Brazilian model, died last month after having had her hands and feet amputated in a vain effort to control a hospital infection, the media and the public had a blast of news about such infections, but in the way of the world, attention wanders and flesh-eating infections are grim anyway.
But the scientific and medical communities continue to make progress. This morning, Princeton-based Derma Sciences (EBB: DSCI, http://www.dermasciences.com) announced FDA clearance of a new wound dressing, Bioguard(tm), that kills 99.999% of the major culprit, methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, known popularly as MRSA. http://www.ir.dermasciences.com/profiles/investor/ResLibraryView.asp?BzID=1109&ResLibraryID=28645&Category=440.
A new wound dressing may not seem like big news, but if you had a MRSA infection, you might be a bit more excited — especially when that dressing comes from the same company that supplies MediHoney(tm), which has been credited by doctors with saving limbs in cases of extreme infection (http://abclocal.go.com/wabc/story?section=news/health&id=6593764). The new line of dressings incorporates a “biocide” technology that the FDA cleared for killing MRSA, VRE, Pseudonomas aeruginosa, and escherichia coli. DSCI shares are trading this morning as though no one had noticed yet this important FDA clearance, unchanged at $0.47 vs a 52-week high of $1.40. DSCI market cap is just shy of $19 million at these prices, less than 1/3 the revenue expected for 2008 ($45 million at the 9-month period).
These bugs belong to a large category of bacteria called “gram-negative” that are especially hard to fight because they are wrapped in a double membrane and harbor enzymes that chew up many antibiotics (http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-sci-badbugs17-2009feb17,0,7454003.story). Dr Brad Spellberg of Harbor-UCLA Medical Center says in the LAT article that “we are literally running out of drugs” to combat these infections.
Overall, infections of this type may be on the decline in certain areas of hospitals — primarily due to improvements in care. According to a recent story in TIME (http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1880140,00.html), these hospital-located infections are down by 50% in the ICU, but overall increasing by 26% over a 10-year period.
Only last week UK MP, Health Minister and former nurse Ann Keen said that it is critical that hospital-based infections continue to be a focus (http://www.nursinginpractice.com/default.asp?title=Fightagainstsuperbugs%22mustgoon%22&page=article.display&article.id=15787).
Meanwhile, Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ, http://www.jnj.com) had a setback for ceftobiprole, an experimental antibiotic targeted at MRSA, which the EU has now delayed, following delays from the FDA — both looking for more data on test monitoring onsite. http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5iMKWKSpYUV_JzYoumokDoCZW1TDgD96I7O0G1. According to an AP article by Linda Johnson, the drug was developed by J&J’s Jansen-Cilag group and Basel, Switzerland-based Basilea Pharmaceutica (SIX Swiss Exchange: BSLN, http://www.basilea.com/). Basilea also decided to sue J&J for dragging its feet on the drug, a double-whammy for the NJ giant.