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Last Updated: Friday, 30 April, 2004, 11:55 GMT 12:55 UK
Skin lotion defeats MRSA superbug
Brian Bennett (C) Caters News
Brian Bennett's lotion has huge potential
A retired lorry driver has produced a home-made hand lotion which has proved effective in combating the potentially fatal MRSA superbug.

Brian Bennett's product was originally developed to treat his wife's dermatitis.

In trials at a Birmingham hospital it successfully killed the bacteria responsible for MRSA.

Doctors have hailed it is a major breakthrough in protecting staff and patients against deadly bacteria.

Mr Bennett, who has no medical training, is set to make a fortune from the cream, although he says his real interest lies in helping the health service.

He spent three months studying reference books in the library to research the best products for treating skin conditions, with a view to helping his wife to combat the contact dermatitis affecting her hands.

I'm delighted for what it's going to do with MRSA
Brian Bennett, product inventor
Mr Bennett, from Nuneaton, Warwickshire, then ordered a vat of barrier cream and experimented by adding various natural ingredients and an anti-bacterial agent.

He told BBC News Online: "I had about 100 litres of normal barrier cream and then experimented by adding aloe vera, vitamin E, jojoba oil, evening primrose oil and other ingredients.

"It took about six months to get the formula right."

He combined it with the powerful anti-bacterial agent Triclosan and water repellent silicon, which acts like an invisible glove to lock the cream into the skin.

Hospital potential

His wife Heather tried the product and her condition cleared up within days.

Mr Bennett recognised the potential for the health industry and approached his local hospital - Birmingham's Queen Elizabeth.

This type of preparation is the way forward because it protects against hand-spread infections for several hours
Professor Tom Elliott, consultant microbiologist
The cream was developed into a lotion and proved effective in combating the many bacteria hospital staff come into contact with.

In trials, it kept hands free of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and other bacteria for up to three hours, even after washing.

Mr Bennett said: "I'm delighted for what it's going to do with MRSA."

It is not intended to replace hand washing, but will provide staff with added protection.

Product patent

Professor Tom Elliott, a consultant microbiologist at Queen Elizabeth hospital, said the clinical trial results were very encouraging.

A total of 102 staff took part in the three-month long trial, with half using the lotion combined with hand washing and half continuing with normal hand washing without the lotion.

In more than 90% of cases there was a significant reduction in bacteria within seconds of the lotion being applied.

MRSA (pic courtesy of Pfizer)
MRSA is potentially fatal
Professor Elliott said: "The breakthrough is that the cream retains activity even after washing the hands.

"This type of preparation is the way forward because it protects against hand-spread infections for several hours.

"It is not only a skin preparation for the hands, but could be used as a pre-operative preparation before surgery is carried out."

Mr Bennett has patented his product, which is being developed by a pharmaceuticals company, and further clinical trials are planned.

Deaths from MRSA increased from 51 in 1993 to 800 in 2002.

It has been estimated that hospital-acquired infections, including MRSA, cost the NHS around 1 billion a year.

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