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New £1.9 million study investigates treatment of MRSA in hospital patients

Published: 29 October 2021

NIHR-funded researchers have launched a new £1.98m study investigating alternative treatments in tackling MRSA in hospital patients.

The TIDE study is a collaboration between South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust and the University of York. It hopes to discover if alternative treatments work as well as the current standard of care for the treatment of patients found to have Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) on their bodies when they are admitted to hospital.

Bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) live on and around us without causing harm. However, some patients coming into hospital who carry S. aureus in the nose and skin are at increased risk of developing infections related to these bacteria. This can happen if they have other health conditions or illnesses that make them more susceptible to infection or if the bacteria get access to areas such as the site of surgery or a drip to give fluid or drugs. These infections are difficult to treat when a resistance to penicillin has built up, known as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). To reduce the risk of getting an infection while in hospital, many patients are routinely “decolonised” of the S. aureus bacteria. This usually involves the patient applying a nasal ointment three times daily for five days and using a body wash.

TIDE will compare three different types of nasal ointment, mupirocin (an antibiotic), polyhexanide gel (an antiseptic) or neomycin cream (an antibiotic) which will each be given alongside a chlorhexidine body wash.
Professor Mike Reed, consultant orthopaedic surgeon at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Trust who is clinical lead for the study, said: “We are delighted to have been awarded this prestigious national grant to run this project in collaboration with our research partners at South Tees and the University of York.
“There are growing concerns that some MRSA strains may be developing resistance to mupirocin which is our current first line treatment. It is not good to be relying on a single treatment and we need to find suitable alternatives. In this study we will look at two alternatives to find out if they are as effective as mupirocin.”

Professor Catherine Hewitt, study co-lead and deputy director of York Trials Unit, added: “We will be recruiting patients to the trial from April 2022. The new study will take place over four and a half years with 3000 patients in over 20 NHS hospitals around the country.
“This randomised trial will assess how effective each of the treatments are at eradicating MRSA following a course of treatment and will provide information on whether they are a suitable alternative to mupirocin.”
The study is funded by the NIHR’s Health Technology Assessment (HTA) Programme. More information is on the study’s project page.

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