Brandi Wampler | January 24, 2020
According to the World Health Organization, one of the biggest health threats around the world is antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Every day people use antibiotics to prevent or fight back against infection, but as bacteria evolve and develop resistance, diseases such as pneumonia and tuberculosis are becoming harder to treat.
Researchers at the University of Notre Dame are working to combat this problem by looking to bacteriophages or phages. Phages are viruses that infect bacteria, similarly to how bacteria infect people, but bacteria have yet to develop resistance to these viruses. In a study published in Nanoscale Advances, the researchers have shown the efficacy of a new nanoparticle-based system that mimics how phages attack and kill bacteria.
“Instead of chasing the next antibiotic, we want to create a system that can treat infection and is an option that bacteria can’t develop resistance to,” said Prakash Nallathamby, research assistant professor of aerospace and mechanical engineering and directing author of the study. “In our initial attempt, our team was able to kill several different types of clinically relevant bacteria with varying degrees of success.”
The phage-mimicking nanoparticle system consists of silver-coated gold nanoparticles distributed randomly on a silica core. Once created, the system was tested for its ability to kill four bacteria types that are known to have antibiotic-resistant strains: Corynebacterium striatum, Enterococcus faecalis, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus aureus. These various bacteria cause a number of health issues including prosthetic device infections, sepsis, meningitis and blood infections.
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