Technology to the Rescue! An Alternative to Antibiotics
The International Business Machine Corporation (IBM) has been thinking outside the box and, in doing so, is making progress in the search for a solution to the problem of MRSA and other antibiotic resistant bacteria. Traditional antibiotics interfere with various cell functions: DNA replication, protein synthesis, cell wall construction, etc. But, as explained above, bacteria often find a way to become resistant to the effects of antibiotics, which are biological substances and, as such, work through biological mechanisms.
In comparison, IBM has engineered a nanoparticle plastic that is electrically attracted to bacterial cell walls, destablizes the cell wall, and allows the contents to leak out. The particle then is harmlessly degraded. Because the mechanism of action is physical rather than chemical, the bacteria cannot become resistant.
The researchers at the Almaden Research Center published their work showing that the nanoparticles selectively kill MRSA in lab dishes, while apparently not affecting healthy cells, in Nature Chemistry. AITSE looks forward to seeing continuation of this innovative work at the cross-section of engineering and biology.