Killer Nanoparticle Targets Superbugs for Assassination

Those superbugs, those particularly nasty, and sometimes fatal, bacteria that are defying resistance faster than we can create it, may have finally met their match in the form of a new nanoparticle developed by researchers at the University of Melbourne’s School of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering.


Tiny specks of this mineral may fight off ‘superbugs’

Researchers have developed nanoparticles that can fight some of the most dangerous antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The work offers a way to fight infections at their source.

The research could be an important step towards managing the threat of antimicrobial resistance…..

Andrea O’Connor, a chemical engineer by background and deputy head of the University of Melbourne’s School of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering, works in the field of biomaterials, implants, and tissue engineering (the practice of merging scaffolds—tiny, porous devices that act as a template to regenerate tissue and organs—with cells to repair wounds and damaged tissues)…..

The researchers found that selenium (a mineral that humans require in their diets to boost immunity and aid metabolism) in the form of nanoparticles can stop the growth of bacteria such as ‘Golden Staph’ (Staphylococcus aureus).

“The benefit of the nanoparticles that we’ve developed is they attack bacteria in multiple ways…”

They think the nanoparticles do this by disrupting the membrane around the bacteria.

“One of the things that bacteria need to stay functioning is their cell membrane,” she explains. “If it starts to get holes in it or to leak, then the bacteria don’t function well and if it gets bad enough then they will die.

“One of the ways that these nanoparticles can attack bacteria is by disrupting that membrane so they make the bacteria leaky, and then things can pass in and out of the bacteria in a way they normally wouldn’t,” O’Connor says.

The team has done tests where they’ve incorporated the nanoparticles as a coating on the surface of a medical implant, or as part of a tissue-engineering scaffold. The antimicrobial components are then gradually released into their surrounding environment, and prevent infections forming.

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