Nanostructures lend cutting edge to antibiotics

London, April 4 (IANS) Arming antibiotic drugs with nanostructures would make them much more effective in targeting infected cells.

These tiny particles would zoom in on infected cells but leave the healthy ones unharmed, according to a study by IBM Research.

James Hedrick, advanced organic materials scientist at IBM Research, said: ‘The number of bacteria in the palm of a hand outnumbers the entire human population,’ reports the journal Nature Chemistry.

‘With this discovery, we’ve been able to leverage decades of materials development traditionally used for semiconductor technologies to create an entirely new delivery mechanism that could make drugs more specific and effective,’ said Hedrick, according to the Telegraph.

‘Using our novel nanostructures, we can offer a viable therapeutic solution for the treatment of MRSA (superbug) and other infectious diseases,’ added Yiyan Yang, group leader at the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology in Singapore, who also worked on the project.

‘This exciting discovery effectively integrates our capabilities in biomedical sciences and materials research to address key issues in conventional drug delivery,’ Yang added.

The nanoparticles are physically attracted to infected cells like a magnet, which means they can eradicate bacteria without destroying healthy cells.

They also act in a different way to traditional antibiotics as they have been designed by the researchers to break through the membranes and walls in bacterial cells, which is hope will prevent the bacteria developing resistance to drugs.