News Release

Free fatty acids may be as effective as antibiotics in treating catheter infections

May prove beneficial as more and more bacteria develop resistance to antibiotics

Peer-Reviewed Publication


PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Researchers at Rhode Island Hospital, Veterans Affair Medical Center in Providence and University of Rhode Island have found that a free fatty acid, made up of compounds similar to those naturally made in the body, may be as effective at fighting certain infections as antibiotics. The study is published online in advance of print in the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy.

"More and more bacteria are developing resistance to commonly used antibiotics," said Leonard Mermel, D.O., medical director of the department of epidemiology and infection control at Rhode Island Hospital. "This study shows that in some cases, we may have an alternative to antibiotics in preventing and treating infections caused by intravenous catheters."

The researchers studied the use of specific antimicrobial lock solutions for the treatment of catheter-related bloodstream infections and found that in laboratory experiments, the treatments were equally, if not more, effective than antibiotics in treating catheter infections. The prototype used in this study, ML9-X10, is a novel, free fatty acid catheter lock solution that is under development.

"Some free fatty acids have the ability to fight bacteria, yeast and viruses," said Kerry LaPlante PharmD, of the University of Rhode Island and Veterans Affair Medical Center in Providence. "These unique compounds may provide an alternative to traditional antibiotics in preventing and treating the many intravenous catheter infections that occur each year in the U.S."

Catheter-related bloodstream infections, such as those due to Staphylococcus, are a common cause of health care-associated infections. Such infections increase hospital length of stay, overall treatment costs, and are associated with morbidity and mortality.


This study was supported in part by a grant from Marvao Medical, Inc. Mermel's principal affiliation is Rhode Island Hospital, a member hospital of the Lifespan health system in Rhode Island. He also has an academic appointment at The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University. His co-investigators include Megan K. Luther of the University of Rhode Island and the Veterans Affairs Medical Center; and corresponding author Kerry L. LaPlante, of URI, the VA Medical Center, and the Alpert Medical School.

About Rhode Island Hospital

Founded in 1863, Rhode Island Hospital in Providence, R.I., is a private, not-for-profit hospital and is the principal teaching hospital of The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University. A major trauma center for southeastern New England, the hospital is dedicated to being on the cutting edge of medicine and research. Last year, Rhode Island Hospital received more than $50 million in external research funding. It is also home to Hasbro Children's Hospital, the state's only facility dedicated to pediatric care. For more information on Rhode Island Hospital, visit, follow us on Twitter @RIHospital or like us on Facebook

Contact: Ellen Slingsby
August 18, 2014
Twitter: @eslingsby

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