Could a discovery in Israel lead to the end of antibiotic resistance?

Israeli scientists have developed a substance that eliminates antibiotic resistance by “killing bacteria with nano-needles,” Ben Gurion University researchers told Reuters on Friday. Israel times.

This discovery could help fight a major threat to global health.

The substance in question contains “nano-needles” that have a lethal effect on bacteria. Scientists say it can be applied in the form of topical creams and antibacterial coatings for surfaces, and has been shown to be about 90% effective against antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the laboratory.

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When bacteria stop working with antibiotics, it is called antibiotic resistance. These pathogens are sometimes colloquially called superbugs.

The World Health Organization considers this phenomenon “one of the greatest threats to global health.”

Because antibiotics work by interfering with specific functions of bacteria, researchers at Ben Gurion University in Beersheba tried a different approach: physically destroying the bacteria.

“Most antibiotics used today work by affecting the internal functions of bacteria. Our solution attacks the edge of the pathogen,” explains one of the researchers, Nofar Yehuda. Israel times.

“Our solution consists of tiny ‘nano-needles’ that will shoot bacteria to kill them. »

Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a bacterium known for its antibiotic resistance (Christoph Burgstedt via iStock via Getty Images)

He described the process in more scientific terms in a peer-reviewed paper published in December, co-authored with Ben Gurion professors Shoshana Arad, Ariel Kushmaro and Levi Ghebe.

According to this group of researchers, the results of their laboratory studies
“Clearly demonstrate the direct effect of shunts on bacteria by disrupting the membrane, resulting in their cell death.”

Nofar Yehuda (Courtesy of Nofar Yehuda)

Ben Gurion University has patented a substance it hopes to commercialize.

It is based on polysaccharides – long chains of carbohydrate molecules – obtained from seaweed. The new substance was obtained by mixing polysaccharides with small copper particles.

“This mixture creates micron-tall ‘nano-needles,'” says Yehuda, who is in his final year of doctoral studies.

“These needles pierce the membrane of the bacteria and die. »

“Because it’s a physical agent that damages bacteria, it won’t be prone to antibiotic resistance. This is a very important discovery in the fight against antibiotic resistance, which is the focus of many studies around the world. »

A study published last year by a medical journal Lancet More than 1.2 million people are estimated to have died from antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections in 2019, more deaths than HIV/AIDS or malaria.

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