The current practical use of antibiotics to treat infection has created drug-resistant mutations in common bacteria. Amoxicillin and other types of commonly-used antibiotics–which work by affecting the DNA of microorganisms, thereby blocking their ability to multiply–have grown increasingly less effective in the last few decades as their use has become more widespread.
In a recent breakthrough, engineers at IBM have developed a nanoparticle technology that is effective against MRSA, or methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, a particularly deadly “super bug” strain of staph in lab studies of MRSA-infected mice.
The nanoparticles are composed of biodegradable plastic which is then charged to attract the bacteria’s opposite charge, which destroys the cell wall of the bacterium. The cells are incapable of maintaining structure and simply degrade (or “thaw”) before they can continue to multiply or attack healthy human cells.
The results of the study were recently published in Nature Chemistry. According to IBM, “The system has yet to be tested on humans, but IBM said the company is currently in talks with major pharmaceutical firms looking at creating a human trial, but declined to publically say which specific firms are involved in talks.”