Sheffield scientists have created a cream which could mark a turning point in the fight against superbugs.
The cream, which causes bacteria to slide off the skin, could be ready for clinical trials in three years.
Bacteria invading a wound or bed sore attach themselves to the skin by hijacking sticky patches on human cells.
The Sheffield scientists found that proteins called tetraspanins made the patches much less sticky, allowing the bugs to be harmlessly washed away.
Dr Pete Monk, from the University of Sheffield's Department of Infection, Immunity and Cardiovascular Science, said: "This development is a huge breakthrough in the fight against antibiotic-resistance
"Skin infections, such as bed-sores and ulcers, can be incredibly troubling for patients who may already be dealing with debilitating conditions. They are also a significant problem for modern healthcare.
"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.
"The therapy could be administered to patients using a gel or cream and could work well as a dressing. We're hoping it can reach clinical trials stage in the next three to five years."
The scientists hope to develop new anti-bacterial dressings derived from tetraspanin proteins that will make it easier to keep wounds sterile and promote more rapid healing.
The research has been funded by the charity Age UK.