Monday, April 4, 2011

IBM nanoparticles can destroy drug-resistant bacteria

April 4, 2011

Researchers from IBM and the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology have discovered a nanomedicine breakthrough in which new types of polymer nanostructures can physically detect and destroy antibiotic-resistant bacteria and infectious diseases like Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).

These nanostructures are physically attracted to infected cells like a magnet, allowing them to selectively eradicate difficult to treat bacteria without destroying healthy cells around them, including red blood cells.

These agents also prevent the bacteria from developing drug resistance by actually breaking through the bacterial cell wall and membrane, a fundamentally different mode of attack compared to traditional antibiotics.

“With this discovery we’ve been able to leverage decades of materials development traditionally used for semiconductor technologies to create an entirely new drug delivery mechanism that could make them more specific and effective,” said Dr. James Hedrick, Advanced Organic Materials Scientist, IBM Research–Almaden.

How it Works

The nanoparticles are synthesized by “metal-free organocatalytic ring-opening polymerization of functional cyclic carbonate.”

Once these polymers come into contact with water in or on the body, they self assemble into a new polymer structure that is designed to target bacteria membranes based on electrostatic interaction and break through their cell membranes and walls.

The physical nature of this action prevents bacteria from developing resistance to these nanoparticles.

The electric charge naturally found in cells is important because the new polymer structures are attracted only to the infected areas while preserving the healthy red blood cells the body needs to transport oxygen throughout the body and combat bacteria.

Unlike most antimicrobial materials, these are biodegradable, which enhances their potential application because they are naturally eliminated from the body (rather than remaining behind and accumulating in organs).

Ref.: F. Nederberg et al., Biodegradable nanostructures with selective lysis of microbial membranes, Nature Chemistry, April 3, 2011 (published online).

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Publisher and/or Author and/or Managing Editor:__Andres Agostini ─ @Futuretronium at Twitter! Futuretronium Book at