According tomedia reports, one of the biggest threats to humanity is also the smallest threat — bacteria. As antibiotic resistance increases, humans may move toward a future in which even mild infections can be fatal again. But recently, researchers at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) in Australia discovered a new way to kill these superbugs , magnetic nanoparticles that can tear them to pieces.
The ability of bacterial populations to develop resistance is fundamental to evolution. When a patient takes antibiotics, most disease-causing bacteria are eliminated but not all of them. Some individuals have random genetic mutations that allow them to survive the attack, and these genes pass on this ability to future generations. Over time, this resistance trait became the norm in the species, which meant that the drugs failed to do so.
For decades, the solution to this problem has been to continue to develop new antibiotics, but the resources available to this approach have begun to dry up. New drugs are always being developed, but not enough, they not only take a long time, but their efficacy often does not last long.
To do this, the researchers began to look for ways to attack bacteria, and the solution from the RMIT team was to use magnetic liquid metal nanoparticles. When exposed to low-intensity magnetic fields, these droplets change their shape, and their edges become sharp enough to pierce cell walls and biofilms.
In the lab, the team tested the new technique on bacterial biofilms. After 90 minutes, the biofilm is destroyed and 99% of the bacteria are destroyed. This method has been effective against both major types of bacteria, those who are Gram-positive and Gram-negative — and this process does not have a negative effect on human health cells.
The team says the technology could be used as a spray coating for medical implants and devices to keep them sterile, or it could be used directly for injection treatment at the site of infection. In the long run, it can be used to fight fungal infections, cholesterol plaques and even cancer.
While that sounds promising, it’s too early to actually use — the team is only just beginning to test the technology in preclinical animal trials, so it will take a while if it does begin in human trials. Nevertheless, it could be a good way to solve the problem.