Researchers from RMIT University have developed a new artificial enzyme that uses light to kill bacteria.
The artificial enzymes could one day be used in the fight against infections, and to keep high-risk public spaces like hospitals free of bacteria like E. coli and Golden Staph.
E. coli can cause dysentery and gastroenteritis, while Golden Staph is the major cause of hospital-acquired secondary infections and chronic wound infections.
Made from tiny nanorods - 1000 times smaller than the thickness of the human hair - the "NanoZymes" use visible light to create highly reactive oxygen species that rapidly break down and kill bacteria.
Lead researcher, Professor Vipul Bansal who is an Australian Future Fellow and Director of RMIT's Sir Ian Potter NanoBioSensing Facility, said the new NanoZymes offer a major cutting edge over nature's ability to kill bacteria.
"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.
"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.
"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.
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