Sunday, May 18, 2014

New Technology Designed To Kill Athlete's Foot

IBM researchers and a team in Singapore have taken a common plastic and turned it into a nanomedicine that is 1,000 times smaller than a grain of sand and can be used to kill fungus that is resistant to antibiotics.
So for everyone who suffers from athlete's foot and toenail fungus, this is good news.
This new nanomedicine represents technology that was created in 2011 at the IBM Almaden research facility in San Jose, California, and at the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology in Singapore to attack bacteria that has become resistant to antibiotics. The researchers believe they can take this nanomedicine and use it to only attack the bad cells within a body. This breakthrough in anti-fungal treatment will likely be commercialized, and has large ramifications for infections that affect over a billion people each year. 
They were able to have precise targeting because the researchers can create an electrical charge on the nano particles that is only attracted to fungi cells. The nano particles then attach themselves to the fungi cells and chemically combine with them, wiping them out.
Researchers are hopeful for this treatment option because it physically attacks the membrane wall of the fungus, and kills the cells before they become immune.
James Hedrick, an advanced organic materials scientist at IBM's Almaden center, said in an interview with VentureBeat that the nanomedicine can be made from plastic materials like polyethylene terephthalate and turned into non-toxic biocompatible materials that are made especially to attack fungal infection. 
"This was a continuation of work in the antimicrobial space," Hendrick said. "It's a new molecule that fights fungal infections, which are similar to mammal cells in that they are very hard to target. Normally, drugs indiscriminately attack fungi and healthy cells together."
Hedrick reiterated that the new nano particles are pathogen-specific and target set fungi, not healthy cells. IBM has labeled this research as a battle of Ninjas vs. Superbugs.
Over 1 billion people each year are affected by a fungal infection of some sort, not just on the feet. The body is more susceptible to these infections when it has an illness like HIV/AIDS, cancer, or when taking antibiotics. Traditional antifungal drugs get inside a cell to attack the infection, but have a difficult time breaking down the membrane wall. As well, drugs cannot differentiate between fungi cells and mammal cells.
Reference: Venture Beat
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