Star-shaped polymers Battle Superbugs

Written by Justin Lim

Researchers from the Melbourne School of Engineering at the University of Melbourne have developed a new star shaped molecule that will aid in the extermination of bacteria have become immune to antibiotics.

These molecules are known as ‘peptide polymers’ which are made of short chains of protein and has potential to be used as treatment in combating antibiotic resistant bacteria (known as Superbugs).

“It is estimated that the rise of superbugs will cause up to ten million deaths a year by 2050. In addition, there have only been one or two new antibiotics developed in the last 30 years,” said Professor Greg Qiao from the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering.

The study showed that the polymers are capable of killing Gram-negative superbug while remaining nontoxic to the body.

Unlike ordinary antibiotics which can only kill bacteria through a single pathway, the star-shaped polymers are capable to doing the job through multiple pathways, including the ‘ripping apart’ of bacteria cell walls.

The findings of the research was published in Nature Microbiology.

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Justin Lim