Environment Superbug solution, waiting in the wings

Superbug solution, waiting in the wings

While the world is in a flap about antibiotic resistance, scientists at RMIT University have stretched their wings in search of a solution.

They’ve looked to nature for inspiration and discovered that cicada and dragonfly wings are natural killers of bacteria.

When examined under a microscope, the wings look to be covered tiny spikes called nanopillars.

When bacteria land on these nanostructures, their cell membranes are pulled, stretched or sliced apart.

More than 700,000 people die every year from drug resistant bacterial infection.

RMIT University’s Distinguished Professor Elena Ivanova says researchers are trying to re-create these anti-bacterial surfaces in their search for an alternative way to kill bacteria.

“If we can understand exactly how insect-inspired nanopatterns kill bacteria, we can be more precise in engineering these shapes to improve their effectiveness against infections,” she said.

“Our ultimate goal is to develop low-cost and scaleable anti-bacterial surfaces for use in implants and in hospitals, to deliver powerful new weapons in the fight against deadly superbugs.”

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