David Kirkpatrick

November 30, 2009

Plasma kills superbugs dead

Via KurzweilAI.net — This is good news for a serious medical concern.

Device spells doom for superbugs
BBC News, Nov. 26, 2009

A prototype device that uses “cold atmospheric plasma” to rid hands, feet, or even underarms of bacteria, including the hospital superbug MRSA, has been developed by Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics researchers.

The team says that an exposure to the plasma of only about 12 seconds reduces the incidence of bacteria, viruses, and fungi on hands by a factor of a million, a number that stands in sharp contrast to the several minutes hospital staff can take to wash using traditional soap and water.


(New Journal of Physics)

 

Read Original Article>>

October 14, 2008

Nanotech v. superbugs

Looks like nanotechnology might be the golden gun against superbugs.

The release:

Nanotechnology boosts war on superbugs

This week Nature Nanotechnology journal (October 12th) reveals how scientists from the London Centre for Nanotechnology (LCN) at UCL are using a novel nanomechanical approach to investigate the workings of vancomycin, one of the few antibiotics that can be used to combat increasingly resistant infections such as MRSA. The researchers, led by Dr Rachel McKendry and Professor Gabriel Aeppli, developed ultra-sensitive probes capable of providing new insight into how antibiotics work, paving the way for the development of more effective new drugs.

During the study Dr McKendry, Joseph Ndieyira, Moyu Watari and coworkers used cantilever arrays – tiny levers no wider than a human hair – to examine the process which ordinarily takes place in the body when vancomycin binds itself to the surface of the bacteria. They coated the cantilever array with mucopeptides from bacterial cell walls and found that as the antibiotic attaches itself, it generates a surface stress on the bacteria which can be detected by a tiny bending of the levers. The team suggests that this stress contributes to the disruption of the cell walls and the breakdown of the bacteria.

The interdisciplinary team went on to compare how vancomycin interacts with both non-resistant and resistant strains of bacteria. The ‘superbugs’ are resistant to antibiotics because of a simple mutation which deletes a single hydrogen bond from the structure of their cell walls. This small change makes it approximately 1,000 times harder for the antibiotic to attach itself to the bug, leaving it much less able to disrupt the cells’ structure, and therefore therapeutically ineffective.

“There has been an alarming growth in antibiotic-resistant hospital ‘superbugs’ such as MRSA and vancomycin-resistant Enterococci (VRE),” said Dr McKendry. “This is a major global health problem and is driving the development of new technologies to investigate antibiotics and how they work.

“The cell wall of these bugs is weakened by the antibiotic, ultimately killing the bacteria,” she continued. “Our research on cantilever sensors suggests that the cell wall is disrupted by a combination of local antibiotic-mucopeptide binding and the spatial mechanical connectivity of these events. Investigating both these binding and mechanical influences on the cells’ structure could lead to the development of more powerful and effective antibiotics in future.”

“This work at the LCN demonstrates the effectiveness of silicon-based cantilevers for drug screening applications,” added Professor Gabriel Aeppli, Director of the LCN. “According to the Health Protection Agency, during 2007 there were around 7,000 cases of MRSA and more than a thousand cases of VRE in England alone. In recent decades the introduction of new antibiotics has slowed to a trickle but without effective new drugs the number of these fatal infections will increase.”

 

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The research was funded by the EPSRC (Speculative Engineering Programme), the IRC in Nanotechnology (Cambridge, UCL and Bristol), the Royal Society and the BBSRC.

 

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(Go below the fold for the remainder of this release)

 

 

(more…)

September 11, 2008

Nanotech may be the answer for “superbugs”

Filed under: Science, Technology — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 12:12 am

Superbugs in hospitals are an ongoing and increasing problem. A nanotechnology solution may kill these drug resistant microbes.

From the PhysOrg link:

New nanotechnology paints for walls, ceilings, and surfaces could be used to kill hospital superbugs when fluorescent lights are switched on, scientists heard today at the Society for General Microbiology’s Autumn meeting being held this week at Trinity College, Dublin.
The new paints contain tiny particles of titanium dioxide, which is the dazzling white compound often used as a brightener in commercial paints. It will also be familiar to tennis fans as the powder used for the white lines to mark out the courts at Wimbledon.

Scientists have discovered that extremely small, nanoparticle-sized forms of titanium dioxide can kill bacteria and destroy dirt when they absorb ultraviolet light (UV) energy from the sun. They produce active molecules which clean up the painted surfaces.

“It would be best if the titanium was antibacterial at wavelengths of light that you find indoors, such as fluorescent light, so that paints containing the nanoparticles could be used in hospitals and other places where a clean environment is important,” said Lucia Caballero from Manchester Metropolitan University, UK.

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