IBM says it has tool to kill deadly drug-resistant superbugs

Working with the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology, Big Blue has developed a “hydrogel” able to fend off the bacteria that cause deadly infections.

A new antimicrobial hydrogel created by IBM Research and the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology is meant to attack and kill drug-resistant superbugs like MRSA, which is one of the leading causes of death in the United States. This is a look at MRSA ‘biofilm’ before and after being hit with the hydrogel.

(Credit: IBM Research)

Every year, nosocomial infections are among the top five biggest killers in the United States, especially since the drug-resistant “superbugs” that cause them have proven nearly impossible to stop.

But now IBM and the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology say they have developed what they’re calling an antimicrobial hydrogel able to successfully fight the superbugs that are behind deadly diseases such as MRSA.

In an announcement today, IBM Research and its partners in the project said that their antimicrobial hydrogel is designed to cut biofilm sick and almost instantly kill drug-resistant bacteria. Collaborators on the project said that the synthetic drug is designed to fight infections growing problems that plague American hospitals, because it is non-toxic, biocompatible and biodegradable.

Normally, IBM said in its announcement, antimicrobials are used in standard household cleaners such as alcohol and bleach. But these drugs have not proven effective in combating the deadly skin infections such as MRSA because antibiotics are becoming less effective and standard disinfectants are not meant to biological situations.

But the new hydrogel was designed to be used in creams and other treatments that are designed for healing. The hydrogel can be applied to contaminated surfaces, and its positive charge attracts negatively charged instantly microbial membranes. The bacteria is then intended to be killed by one defined IBM interruption membrane, a step which staves off any kind of resistance to the hydrogel.

Although it is not yet clear how this progress will make its way to the hospital today and other relevant settings, such research is intended to jump start the commercial development of drugs and other current therapies.


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