Quantum Dots To Fight Drug Resistant Bacteria

Credit: NIAID, Micrograph of Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA)

Researchers at the University of Colorado have created a unique, light-activated nanotherapy to destroy antibiotic resistant bacteria

The pursuit of longevity requires continued, effective antibiotics. Otherwise, you could be as fit as a fiddle at 100 and still be downed by a nasty, resistant strain.

While bacterial strains resistant to current drugs are rapidly rising across the globe, infecting 2 million people last year, researchers are turning to increasingly innovative ways to destroy these populations. Nanotechnology is one such, increasingly promising technology.

What are 'quantum dots'?

These are therapeutic nano-particles , 20,000 times smaller than a hair (nano essentially means very small). These specific ones are similar to semi-conductors and can be light activated at specific wavelengths.

92% of drug-resistant bacterial cells in lab-grown cultures were killed by this new therapy      

Bacteria can develop many solutions to our antibiotic targets, especially if antibiotic use is mismanaged

Previous attempts with nano-particles formed from silver or gold have been effective, but they've also damaged healthy cells too. Because these dots are inactive unless specifically activated, targeting light exposure enables minimal collateral damage.

"While we can always count on these superbugs to adapt and fight the therapy, we can quickly tailor these quantum dots to come up with a new therapy and, therefore, fight back faster in this evolutionary race. Photoexcited quantum dots can kill a wide range of multidrug-resistant bacterial clinical isolates, including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, carbapenem-resistant Escherichia coli, and extended-spectrum β-lactamase-producing Klebsiella pneumoniae and Salmonella typhimurium"

A flexible, quickly evolving treatment

Nanotechnology is exciting because it can be relatively quickly modified to create a new treatment - meaning we could outpace bacterial evolution in most instances. This is an essential component of effective future antibiotic approaches.

These quantum dots could even represent a treatment against viruses or cancer, as they enable targeted specific treatment across the body.

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