Harmful bacteria that is immune to antibiotics is a bit of a terrifying foe. One of our most recent enemies in this field is E. coli bacteria. But not for long. A recent scientific team from Singapore has created a material that can take down E. coli within just 30 seconds.
E. coli is a nasty bacterium that effects the intestines of animals and humans causing fever, severe diarrhea and stomach pains. It is spread through contaminated food and water and through people who are infected. It is highly contagious, but can be prevented by good hygiene and proper food handling.
Dr. Yugen Zhang from the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (IBN) and his team created this material to fight E. coli because of the need to find a more effective material to fight bacteria that would not create drug-resistant strands. Tricloan, which is used in lots of anti-bacterial home products like soaps and detergents has been blamed for creating drug-resistant bacteria that can be very harmful to us, and it has already been banned in Europe.
This new, strong antimicrobial material can be developed and used in personal care products and help prevent the spread of infectious diseases without creating more harmful bacteria in the process. It is made up of molecules that link together, called imidazolium oligomers. The chain structure of the link goes deep in the cell membrane of the bacteria and destroys it quickly, killing 99.7% of the E.coli bacteria, and stopping it from growing back or creating antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
This seemingly miraculous material is also safe because it only attacks the negatively charged bacteria, leaving the healthy red blood cells alone to thrive. It comes in a white powder that dissolves in water or can turn into a gel when dissolved in alcohol. Hospitals and homes will be able to use it as a sterilizing spray eventually.
This new material is also successful against other antibiotic-resistant strains like Staphylococcus aureus, Candida albicans, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa, killing 99.9% of the microbes in only two minutes. These bacteria can cause pneumonia, toxic shock syndrome and skin infections, so the use of this material will be very helpful in the future.
Drug-resistant bacteria and infectious diseases may become a thing of the past with strong, fast-acting materials like this being developed across the globe. We hope to see more progress like this moving forward.