New copper surface eliminates bacteria in just two minutes

A new surface that kills bacteria more than 100 times faster and more effectively than standard copper could help combat the growing threat of antibiotic-resistant superbugs. The new copper product is the result of a collaborative research project with RMIT University and Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO, with findings just published in Biomaterials. Copper has long been used to fight different strains of bacteria, including the commonly found golden staph, because the ions released from the metal’s surface are toxic to bacterial cells. But this process is slow when standard copper is used, as RMIT University’s Distinguished Professor Ma Qian explained, and significant efforts are underway by researchers worldwide to speed it up.

The copper magnified 500,000 times under a scanning electron microscope shows the tiny nano-scale pores in the structure

A standard copper surface will kill about 97% of golden staph within four hours,” Qian said. “Incredibly, when we placed golden staph bacteria on our specially-designed copper surface, it destroyed more than 99.99% of the cells in just two minutes.” “So not only is it more effective, it’s 120 times faster.” Importantly, said Qian, these results were achieved without the assistance of any drug. “Our copper structure has shown itself to be remarkably potent for such a common material,” he said.

The team believes there could be a huge range of applications for the new material once further developed, including antimicrobial doorhandles and other touch surfaces in schools, hospitals, homes and public transport, as well as filters in antimicrobial respirators or air ventilation systems, and in face masks. The team is now looking to investigate the enhanced copper’s effectiveness against SARS-COV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, including assessing 3D-printed samples. Other studies suggest copper may be highly effective against the virus, leading the US Environmental Protection Agency to officially approve copper surfaces for antiviral uses earlier this year.

Source: https://www.rmit.edu.au/news/

How To Eradicate (Again) Tuberculosis

Scientists find new way to kill tuberculosis (TB). A toxin called MenT can block the use of important amino acids required by the bacteria to produce essential proteins needed for survival. An international team of researchers, led by Durham University, UK, and the Laboratory of Molecular Microbiology and Genetics/Centre Integrative Biology in Toulouse, France, are aiming to exploit this  to develop new anti-TB drugs.

Surface electrostatic representation of toxin MenT (blue, positive; red, negative), showing where target tRNA would bind and the enzymatic active site.

TB is the world’s deadliest infectious disease with nearly 1.5 million deaths each year. Whilst most cases can be cured with , the number of antibiotic-resistant infections are steadily increasing. It is spread by breathing in tiny droplets from the coughs or sneezes of an infected person and mainly affects the lungs though it can affect any part of the body, including the glands, bones and  .

Bacteria, such as the germs that cause TB, produce toxins to help them adapt to stress in the environment. These toxins are normally counteracted by a matching antidote, but when they are active they can potentially slow bacterial growth and even lead to cell death. The research team found a new toxin, called MenT, produced by the TB bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The researchers built an extremely detailed 3-D picture of MenT which, combined with genetic and biochemical data, showed that the toxin inhibits the use of amino acids needed by the bacteria to produce protein.

If it is not neutralised by its MenA anti-toxin, MenT stalls the growth of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, causing the bacteria to die.

Co-Senior author Dr. Tim Blower, Associate Professor in the Department of Biosciences, and Lister Institute Prize Fellow at Durham University, said: “Effectively the tuberculosis is actively poisoning itself. “Through the forced activation of MenT, or by destabilising the relationship between the toxin and its anti-toxin MenA, we could kill the  that cause TB”  The remarkable anti-bacterial properties of such toxins make them of huge therapeutic interest.”

Their findings are published in the journal Science Advances.

Source: https://www.dur.ac.uk/
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https://phys.org/