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IBM & The Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology Find Breakthrough for MRSA

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Rei_Toei

Fclvat sbe Pnanqn, ru?
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Source: IBM press release (04-04-2011)

Additional interesting reading: The spread of superbugs- What can be done about the rising risk of antibiotic resistance? (Economist)

IBM and The Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology Find Breakthrough for MRSA Treatment

New Molecular Structures Could Fight Infectious Diseases Better than Conventional Antibiotics
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SAN JOSE, Calif. - 04 Apr 2011: Researchers from IBM (NYSE: IBM) and the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology discovered a nanomedicine breakthrough in which new types of polymers were shown to physically detect and destroy antibiotic-resistant bacteria and infectious diseases like Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, known as MRSA.

Discovered by applying principles used in semiconductor manufacturing, these nanostructures are physically attracted to infected cells like a magnet, allowing them to selectively eradicate difficult to treat bacteria without destroying healthy cells around them. These agents also prevent the bacteria from developing drug resistance by actually breaking through the bacterial cell wall and membrane, a fundamentally different mode of attack compared to traditional antibiotics.

MRSA is just one type of dangerous bacteria that is commonly found on the skin and easily contracted in places like gyms, schools and hospitals where people are in close contact. In 2005, MRSA was responsible for nearly 95,000 serious infections, and associated with almost 19,000 hospital stay-related deaths in the United States.

The challenge with infections like MRSA is two fold. First, drug resistance occurs because microorganisms are able to evolve to effectively resist antibiotics because current treatments leave their cell wall and membrane largely undamaged. Additionally, the high doses of antibiotics needed to kill such an infection indiscriminately destroy healthy red blood cells in addition to contaminated ones.

“The number of bacteria in the palm of a hand outnumbers the entire human population,” said Dr. James Hedrick, Advanced Organic Materials Scientist, IBM Research – Almaden. “With this discovery we’ve been able to leverage decades of materials development traditionally used for semiconductor technologies to create an entirely new drug delivery mechanism that could make them more specific and effective.”

If commercially manufactured, these biodegradable nanostructures could be injected directly into the body or applied topically to the skin, treating skin infections through consumer products like deodorant, soap, hand sanitizer, table wipes and preservatives, as well as be used to help heal wounds, tuberculosis and lung infections.

“Using our novel nanostructures, we can offer a viable therapeutic solution for the treatment of MRSA and other infectious diseases. This exciting discovery effectively integrates our capabilities in biomedical sciences and materials research to address key issues in conventional drug delivery,” said Dr. Yiyan Yang, Group Leader, Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology, Singapore.

How it Works

The human body’s immune system is designed to protect us from harmful substances, both inside and out, but for a variety of reasons, many of today’s conventional antibiotics are either rejected by the body or have a limited success rate in treating drug-resistant bacteria. The antimicrobial agents developed by IBM Research and the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology are specifically designed to target an infected area to allow for a systemic delivery of the drug.

Once these polymers come into contact with water in or on the body, they self assemble into a new polymer structure that is designed to target bacteria membranes based on electrostatic interaction and break through their cell membranes and walls. The physical nature of this action prevents bacteria from developing resistance to these nanoparticles.

The electric charge naturally found in cells is important because the new polymer structures are attracted only to the infected areas while preserving the healthy red blood cells the body needs to transport oxygen throughout the body and combat bacteria.


Unlike most antimicrobial materials, these are biodegradable, which enhances their potential application because they are naturally eliminated from the body (rather than remaining behind and accumulating in organs).

The antimicrobial polymers created by IBM Research and the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology and were tested against clinical microbial samples by the State Key Laboratory for Diagnosis and Treatment of Infectious Diseases, First Affiliated Hospital, College of Medicine and Zhejiang University in China. The full research paper was recently published in the peer-reviewed journal Nature Chemistry.

Researchers from IBM are already applying principles from nanotechnology to create potential medical innovations like the DNA Transistor and 3-D MRI. Most recently they have been working on a one step point-of-care-diagnostic test based on an innovative silicon chip that requires less sample volume, can be significantly faster, portable, easy to use, and can test for many diseases. Dubbed “Lab on a Chip,” the results are so quick and accurate that a small sample of a patient’s blood could be tested immediately following a heart attack to enable the doctor to quickly take a course of action to help the patient survive.

For more information about how IBM is working to help make healthcare smarter, please visit: ibm.com/smarterplanet/healthcare or ibm.com/research.

About the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology

Established in 2003, the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (IBN) conducts cutting-edge research geared towards linking multiple disciplines across all fields in engineering, science and medicine to produce research breakthroughs that will improve healthcare and quality of life.

Sorry if old.

One thing I don't really understand and which the article doesn't really dwell on, is how they are sure their nanotech only affects the MSRA bacteria/cells. Biology classes are like 10 years ago, but if I'm not mistaken, all cells have the same type of membrane, which consist of phospholipids. So the nanotech needs to identify the type of electric charge the MSRA bacteria/cells give off. Basically the 'friend or foe' system the nanotech has to only attack MSRA.

The article says that 'The electric charge naturally found in cells is important because the new polymer structures are attracted only to the infected areas while preserving the healthy red blood cells the body needs to transport oxygen throughout the body and combat bacteria.' but doesn't really seem to explain how this works. Maybe someone on GAF with more knowledge on the subject can shed some light on it.
 

Amalthea

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Don't worry, leave it to the good people who invented it they know what they do!

 

Crystalkoen

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Jun 7, 2004
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In before someone makes one that attaches itself to healthy cells.

Must resist... avatar... quote...

On topic: I am always for the betterment of humanity through the sciences, especially when it puts us one step closer to a future rife with Nanoaugmentation. I am concerned, however, that someone could use this research to create a horrible (and relatively undetectable until far-too-late) weapon capable of, for lack of a better description, melting you from the inside out.
 
Dec 11, 2010
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Crystalkoen said:
Must resist... avatar... quote...

On topic: I am always for the betterment of humanity through the sciences, especially when it puts us one step closer to a future rife with Nanoaugmentation. I am concerned, however, that someone could use this research to create a horrible (and relatively undetectable until far-too-late) weapon capable of, for lack of a better description, melting you from the inside out.

It can't get much worse than existing neurotoxins, which are already extremely lethal in a short space of time. This would be more horrific although not really any more effective.
 
Aug 4, 2006
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Just a slightly different electrostatic interaction and suddenly you don't have any major organs! Science!!!

This is cool though
 

ShortDarkAndUgly

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good news.

on another note, how long do you think it will be before the prefix nano- is finally dropped from normal usage? it sounds so stupid.
 

gwarm01

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Bacterial cells also have a cell wall composed of cross-linked peptidoglycan layers, and gram negative bacteria also have a second lipopolysaccharide layer. This has typically been the differentiating factor between mammalian and bacterial cells when it comes to drug design.

If this type of medicine works like it says it does, it should be pretty safe. Because bacterial cells are fundamentally different than mammalian cells in several ways, the contents of the cell are also different. The electrostatic potential of the cell is determined by the intercellular contents, so this could be a very effective treatment someday.

Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought vancomycin was already a pretty damn effective treatment against MRSA. I haven't heard about resistance, but I haven't really been keeping up with it.
 
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