Quantum dots trigger antibiotic treatment boost, research finds
5 Oct 2017
Research by the University of Colorado at Boulder suggests light-activated nanoparticles could be used to boost the effectiveness of antibiotics.
The researchers claim to have improved the effectiveness of existing antibiotics for certain clinical isolate infections by introducing nano-engineered quantum dots. These can be deployed selectively and activated or de-activated using specific wavelengths of light.
Rather than attacking the infecting bacteria conventionally, the dots release superoxide, a chemical species designed to interfere with the bacteria’s metabolic and cellular processes, triggering a fight response that makes it more susceptible to the original antibiotic.
A full account of the research has been published in the journal Science Advances.
Prashant Nagpal, co-lead author on the study, said: “We’ve developed a one-two knockout punch. The bacteria’s natural fight reaction [to the dots] actually leaves it more vulnerable.”
Nagpal’s partner, Anushree Chatterjee, added: “We are thinking more like the bug. This is a novel strategy that plays against the infection’s normal strength and catalyses the antibiotic instead.”
Last month, a report by the World Health Organization (WHO) revealed a major shortage of new antibiotics designed to combat the growing threat of antimicrobial resistance.
WHO director general Tedros Ghebreyesus said: “There is an urgent need for more investment in research and development for antibiotic-resistant infections including TB, otherwise we will be forced back to a time when people feared common infections and risked their lives from minor surgery.”
The team at CU Boulder say their research could be used to combat drug-resistant superbugs such as E. coli and Salmonella.
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