The problem of antibiotic-resistant bacteria is a growing one, which threatens to throw medical science back before the time that penicillin provided a cure for infectious diseases. Antibiotics have proven to be a boon for humankind, saving millions of lives. The problem is that the use of these drugs has, in the fullness of time, created bacteria that have evolved to resist antibiotics. New classes of antibiotics are being discovered all the time. But, eventually, medical science will be thrown back to the situation it finds itself in now, with more and more bacteria having become resistant.
However, according to ZME Science, researchers at the University of Boulder, Colorado have developed a new nanoparticle that can be used to attack bacteria. Nanoparticles have been envisioned as a way to combat disease before, but they tended to attack healthy cells indiscriminately. The Colorado researchers have developed a nanoparticle called a quantum dot, 20,000 times smaller than a human hair, that will only attack bacteria when stimulated with light, leaving healthy cells alone.
Tests in a monoculture have proven to be promising, with the quantum dots killing 92 percent of bacteria while leaving mammalian cells alone. The next step will be tests in living subjects, starting with animal studies and, eventually, human trials. Some years hence, the biotechnology industry will have a new weapon with which to fight infectious diseases, something that bacteria will not be able to adapt to effectively. As quickly as bacteria become resistant to the nanoparticles, doctors will be able to adjust them accordingly.
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