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This illustration depicts a three-dimensional (3D) computer-generated image of a number of drug-resistant Neisseria gonorrhoeae diplococcal bacteria. Note that extending from the organisms’ exterior were type IV pili, or hair-like appendages, which in this case, are used to promote motility for these bacteria, and improve surface adherence. The artistic recreation was based upon scanning electron microscopic (SEM) imagery.

Three-dimensional computer-generated image of drug-resistant Neisseria gonorrhoeae diplococcal bacteria. // Image: James Archer, Centers for Disease Control

CTV: Canadian researchers developing ‘Trojan horse’ weapon to battle bacterial superbugs

November 16, 2018 — 

Antibiotic resistance poses a major societal issue on many levels, which is why U of M researchers are working hard on the problem from many angles (such as this, and this or any of these). And CTV recently interview Faculty of Science professors about his work. 

As they report: 

Frank Schweizer, a professor from the University of Manitoba, called it a “major problem” because “people die because of this.”

As stories like Hartje’s are becoming increasingly prevalent, University of Manitoba researcher Dr. Song Liu is choosing to take a different approach.

He’s currently coordinating a team attempting to create a “series of material solutions to the problem of bacterial infections,” he told CTV Winnipeg.

Simply put, he wants to use biocides — poisonous, toxic substances — to kill the bacteria infecting surface wounds.

Back in March, Lui’s team and another group from the University of Waterloo announced they had developed the biocide as a way to bypass a superbug’s defences like a “Trojan horse.”

But the ongoing issue is that these biocides are non-selective. That means “they can also bring harm to our human skin cells.”

For them to be effective Lui’s team needed to figure out a way to quickly pull the toxic chemicals out of a wound, and their solution involves magnetic nanoparticles.

The work of graduate student Rachel Nickel (UM Today Q&A with her here), part of Lui’s team, involves coating the toxic biocide onto magnetic nanoparticles which will in turn, disrupt, or heat up and kill the bacteria.

Nickel believes that the nanoparticles could kill the pathogens which cling to medical devices.

“If we can cut down on say 10 per cent or 20 per cent of the hospital-acquired illnesses,” Nickel said, it could make a “pretty big difference.”

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