Science and Journalism in Society

Brandeis University JOUR 130B

New discoveries in fight against superbugs

Antibiotic resistant bacteria presents a rising problem to the world. In the US alone, approximately 2 million people are infected by drug resistant bacteria and more than 23,000 people die as a result. These numbers continue to rise every year as antibiotic resistant infections are more common. While new antibiotics are hard to find, new methods are being discovered to fight against antibiotic resistance.

Researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder discovered a light activated nanoparticle treatment that have been shown to kill 92% of drug-resistant bacteria. Unlike previous research done on nanoparticles to fight against bacteria, these nanoparticles are able to only harm the infections as they can be tailored against a particular bacteria through the use of different wavelengths. This new technology is a great step towards developing an effective treatment against strains of antibiotic resistant bacteria.

Researchers from the UK National Physical Laboratory and University College London have engineered a new way for lactoferrin, a protein found in saliva and breast milk that destroys a range of harmful microbes, to kill bacteria by puncturing the cell membrane with holes. Similar to a virus, the re-engineered lactoferrin is capable of self-assembly into a capsule and can transport small RNA fragments. However it is different from other viral therapies, as it is capable of attacking specific bacterial strains. Both will be important in the treatment of a wider range of diseases. These self assembling capsules could “serve as delivery vehicles for cures” of disorders resulting from single mutated genes.

Not only do both discoveries give hope in the fight against superbugs, but with further research they can also treat other diseases. However, they will need a long time before being available on the market.



1 Comment

  1. Nice research and summarization of work in antibiotic resistance. You cite two very interesting avenues of research, but how do they differ? What are the obstacles to their success? News of discoveries like these two are perfect starting points for digging deeper into the larger issue.

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