NanoZyme Killers

The Fight Against Bacteria Just Went Nano!

Scientists from RMIT University have created a new artificial enzyme that uses visbile light on the nanoscale to nuke bacteria. This discovery could be a game changer for hospitals and doctor’s offices that have to deal with deadly bacteria like Golden Staph and E-Coli. This could be a greatly needed change in the winds of war against antimicrobial resistance bacteria which, kills thousands of people every year and as their names suggest, even our strongest antibiotics are useless against them.

Golden Staph is the number one cause of hospital-acquired secondary infection and E-Coli can cause gastroenteritis, severely hindering a patients chances of recovery. The new ‘NanoZyme’ is made up of tiny nanorods which are 1000 times smaller than a human hair. “Our NanoZymes are artificial enzymes that combine light with moisture to cause a biochemical reaction that produces OH radicals and breaks down bacteria. Nature’s antibacterial activity does not respond to external triggers such as light,” says Professor Vipul Bansal, an Australian Future Fellow and Director of RMIT’s Sir Ian Potter NanoBioSensing Facility.

A 3D rendering shows dead bacteria and where it has been eaten by the NanoZymes. Image Credit: Dr Chaitali Dekiwadia/ RMIT Microscopy and Microanalysis Facility

“For a number of years we have been attempting to develop artificial enzymes that can fight bacteria, while also offering opportunities to control bacterial infections using external ‘triggers’ and ‘stimuli’,” Bansal said. “Now we have finally cracked it.”

“We have shown that when shined upon with a flash of white light, the activity of our NanoZymes increases by over 20 times, forming holes in bacterial cells and killing them efficiently”

“This next generation of nanomaterials are likely to offer new opportunities in bacteria-free surfaces and controlling spread of infections in public hospitals.”

The NanoZymes work in a solution that mimics the fluid in a wound. This solution could be sprayed onto surfaces, mixed into paints, blended into ceramics and possibly other consumer applications. Just imagine never having to be worried about the surfaces in a public restroom and think of the amount of chemical cleaning that would not have to be performed anymore. The researchers believe their new technology may even have the potential to create self-cleaning toilet bowls.

“The next step will be to validate the bacteria killing and wound healing ability of these NanoZymes outside of the lab,” Bansal said. “This NanoZyme technology has huge potential, and we are seeking interest from appropriate industries for joint product development.”

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