MRSA bacteria is a virulent bacteria that breeds in hospitals, killing patients who are recovering from surgery or other ailments. But now we can create MRSA-free hospitals, by painting them with a special substance that kills MRSA without antibiotics.
A group of biotech researchers created the paint by knitting together carbon nanotubes with lysostaphin, an enzyme that slices open cell walls and kills them. Lysostaphin is a naturally-occurring substance that bacteria developed to combat other kinds of bacteria. That means it's a highly-targeted substance - in fact, it only destroys staph bacteria, including MRSA. The researchers report that 100 percent of MRSA that came into contact with the lysostaphin paint died within two hours. They imagine that the lysostaphin/nanotube mix can be used to coat surgical instruments or added to the paint in hospital walls.
The best part? The lysostaphin/nanotube mix doesn't harm the environment, and isn't reliant on increasingly-ineffective antibiotics to do its work. A release about the study explains more:
"We're building on nature," said Jonathan S. Dordick, the Howard P. Isermann Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering, and director of Rensselaer's Center for Biotechnology & Interdisciplinary Studies. "Here we have a system where the surface contains an enzyme that is safe to handle, doesn't appear to lead to resistance, doesn't leach into the environment, and doesn't clog up with cell debris. The MRSA bacteria come in contact with the surface, and they're killed."
In tests, 100 percent of MRSA in solution were killed within 20 minutes of contact with a surface painted with latex paint laced with the coating.
The new coating marries carbon nanotubes with lysostaphin, a naturally occurring enzyme used by non-pathogenic strains of Staph bacteria to defend against Staphylococcus aureus, including MRSA. The resulting nanotube-enzyme "conjugate" can be mixed with any number of surface finishes - in tests, it was mixed with ordinary latex house paint.
Unlike other antimicrobial coatings, it is toxic only to MRSA, does not rely on antibiotics, and does not leach chemicals into the environment or become clogged over time. It can be washed repeatedly without losing effectiveness and has a dry storage shelf life of up to six months . . . "It's very effective. If you put a tiny amount of lysostaphin in a solution with Staphylococcus aureus, you'll see the bacteria die almost immediately," Kane said.
Lysostaphin works by first attaching itself to the bacterial cell wall and then slicing open the cell wall (the enzyme's name derives from the Greek "lysis" meaning "to loosen or release").
"Lysostaphin is exceptionally selective," Dordick said. "It doesn't work against other bacteria and it is not toxic to human cells."
The enzyme is attached to the carbon nanotube with a short flexible polymer link, which improves its ability to reach the MRSA bacteria, said Kane.
via ACS Nano