A first-of-its-kind treatment to prevent bacterial skin infections could play a vital role in the fight against “superbugs” in healthcare facilities, a new study finds.

Researchers from the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom used proteins found in human cells called tetraspanins to make it more difficult for bacteria to attach to skin wounds such as bedsores and pressure ulcers. Use of the protients has been proven to effectively treat antibiotic-resistant bacteria, according to the report.

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria, otherwise known as “superbugs,” include MRSA, Norovirus and CRE

The treatment makes cells in a skin wound “less sticky” and allows the harmful bacteria to be easily washed away, according to researchers. They added that the therapy can be administered as a gel or a cream.

“This development is a huge breakthrough in the fight against antibiotic-resistance,” said study leader Pete Monk, Ph.D.  “We hope that this new therapy can be used to help relieve the burden of skin infections on both patients and health services, while also providing a new insight into how we might defeat the threat of antimicrobial drug resistance.

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria are the cause of 1 in 4 infections among patients in long-term care hospitals, according to the Center for Disease Control. Patients with drug-resistant infections such as MRSA are estimated to be 64% more likely die than individuals with a non-resistant form of the infection.