Superbugs: The end to war against antibiotic resistance in sight?1 min read . Updated: 29 Sep 2016, 09:41 PM IST
A team from the University of Melbourne's School of Engineering has developed molecules that can rip through cell walls of superbugs
New Delhi: In what is being hailed as a potential breakthrough against antibiotic resistance, a team from the University of Melbourne’s School of Engineering has developed molecules that can rip through cell walls of superbugs.
The molecules—star-shaped peptide polymers—are effective at killing antibiotic-resistant bacteria by breaking apart the cell wall instead of relying on antibiotics’ tradition of chemically poisoning the micro organism.
The polymers, which exhibit multiple pathways of killing the bacteria, have also shown to be effective in killing superbugs when tested in a single animal (mice) model.
Superbugs are bacteria that can no longer be killed by the current spectrum of antibiotics known to humans.
Additionally, according to early stages of the research, these peptide polymers don’t seem to affect healthy cells in the area, ergo adding to their potential efficiency. What is even more promising is that the superbugs, although tested on only six strains of drug-resistant bacteria, have shown no resistance against these polymers.
The research, which has been published in Nature Microbiology, has sparked hope from the public health community and scientists who till recently were rallying against bacteria’s evolution in immunity against conventional drugs.
According to estimates, antibiotic-resistant bacteria kill around a quarter million people each year globally, but a recent study suggests that the number could rise to around 10 million by 2050.
“We’ve discovered that [the polymers] actually target the bacteria and kill it in multiple ways. This is still at quite a primary or basic research level though," Shu Lam, the 25-year-old Ph.D student credited with the research told The Telegraph.