Gonococcal blindness is a sexually transmitted disease caused due to the bacteria Neisseria gonorrhoeae. The infection occurs when a pregnant woman carries the pathogen and it transmits to the child through the birth canal.
The infection damages the eyes and without adequate treatment, it can even lead to permanent blindness. Another major problem is that the bacteria is has gained resistance to all antibiotics previously used against the infection.
The researchers at Kingston University London found a simple and natural treatment for antibiotic-resistant N. gonorrhea. The treatment is an eye drop that can be easily administered to infected infants and does not cause any irritation in the eyes.
The research published recently in the Scientific Reports Journal.
The Kingston University research team studied monocaprin as an antimicrobial agent to fight gonorrhea. It can also replace the conventional antibiotic treatments that are now ineffective against gonococcal blindness.
Monocaprin can help prevent the problem of antibiotic resistance and a cheaper alternative to regular medication. Lori Snyder is an associate professor at Kingston University. Dr. Snyder said that antibiotic alternatives are need of the hour as more bacteria are gaining resistance to commonly available antibiotics.
According to Dr. Snyder, the research aims to look for a cheaper and easily accessible alternative to antibiotics. Also, the resistance to the agent should be highly unlikely for long term effects and usage. The research team previously used monocaprin to kill the target bacteria, Neisseria gonorrhoeae.
Monocaprin is a modified form of fatty acid and a monoglyceride. The research shows that monocaprin does not cause any irritation in the eyes when incorporated in eye drops. Hence, it is safe to use in children, infants, and adults.
Dr. Snyder mentioned that this agent can help diminish the infection in the eye and also prevent infection in the future. Hence, it treats the disease and also protects against future infection. The researchers also found other alternatives to antibiotics but they led to irritation in the eyes, hence not safe for use as eye drops.
The other agents can also only act as preventive medication but do not treat the infection in the eye. Monocaprin eye drops have a thick texture which helps the medication stay in the eye area for a longer time. This helps the eye drops to be more effective in treating the infection due to the staying power of the agent on the eye surface.
Other benefits of these eye drops include the components used in these drops. The agents can be found easily unlike antibiotics used against gonococcal blindness. Also, there are no special storage instructions for these eye drops. These are highly stable and easy to use and do not cause any irritation or discomfort in the eyes.
The researchers have tested the eye drops in bovine eyes which showed positive results so far. The trials will move to humans in the next stage which will confirm the safety and efficacy of this new treatment. Meanwhile, this new product can open doors to new research using natural products sourced from easily available resources. This will make the treatments cheaper and readily available.