IBM nanostructures seek and destroy MRSA

With NHS reforms it will soon be only the rich and brave that are prepared to enter a spit-and-sawdust English hospital.

But it is comforting to hear that for those who do manage to drag themselves to the local quack the chances of leaving alive are set to increase – with IBM researchers announcing a step towards eradicating one of what the tabloids will tell you is the main danger of a visit to the hospital, the MRSA bug.

This is because of a nanomedicine breakthrough by the IBM Research team at the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology, which shows how new types of polymers could be used to seek and destroy the deadly MRSA bug.

The researcher applied the same principles used in manufacturing semiconductors in the discovery of the polymers that attract cells infected antibiotic-resistant bacteria like a magnet before destroying them from the inside.

The nanostructures that the team developed are able to selectively eradicate specific cells and stop them from developing any kind of an immunity due to the attack which breaks through the cell wall.

In the past, antibiotics used to treat MRSA were used at such high doses that they also target healthy red blood cells while attempting to target the bacteria that is responsible for high numbers of infections of those in hospital beds, with 95,000 recorded in one year in the US, and 19,000 deaths.

While the UK authorities claim that rise has been stemmed it is still a problem in this country too.

The nanostructures developed by the team could help curb these figures by treating infections after being applied to the skin through a liquid such as a soap or through a direct injection.

Once the polymer comes into contact with water or with a patient’s body, they then assemble into a new structure that is able to hunt down MRSA cells through detection of electrostatic interaction and then break through their cell membranes.

Dr. Yiyan Yang, group leader at the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology in Singapore, claimed that by using the “novel nanostructure” it would be possible to “offer a viable therapeutic solution for the treatment of MRSA and other infectious diseases”.

Another bonus for the nanostructure is that they are biododegradable, meaning that they are more easily removed from the body than previous antimicrobials, rather than accumulating in the patient’s organs.