Researchers have devised an new way of fighting multidrug-resistant bacteria, by blinding them instead of killing them. This study, conducted by the UT Southwestern Medical Center in Texas proved highly effective when tested on burn injuries, according to a press statement by the academic facility.

“Rather than killing the bacteria, we blinded them so they could not find the places where they normally stick to the host (body’s) cells,” said Dr Steven Wolf, Section Chief for Burns and Professor of Surgery at UT Southwestern Medical Center, in the statement. “If bacteria cannot bind, [stick to cells] they cannot grow.”

Dr Wolf said that about 75% of mortality in burn patients is linked to infections, which are more common in patients who suffer extensive burns.

The study was published in Scientific Reports, an online journal from publishers of the science journal Nature. It targeted multidrug-resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa, which is found in about one-third of all burn injuries and in around 59% of those with extensive burns, according to the researchers.

The researchers developed an experimental molecule in the Medical Center’s Orth Laboratory which, when applied, substantially reduced bacterial levels in wounds in the first 24 hours. The molecule also prevented the spread of the infection to adjacent tissue for three more days, the researchers said. The trial was conducted on rats.

The study looks at attacking the virulence of the microbe and its ability to damage the host, rather than by killing it with antiobiotics that have triggered the formation of the multidrug resistant bacteria. “..There is no reason for the bacteria to become resistant to this approach. Being unable to bind to wounded tissue is an inconvenience, and the bacteria move on,” said co-senior author Dr Kim Orth, Professor of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry at UT Southwestern.

This technique could also work on diabetic ulcers and surgical wounds that are prone to infection, researchers said.