A new line of biodegradable polymer nanoparticles can be used to combat drug-resistant bacteria without destroying healthy red blood cells. The antimicrobial polymers inhibit the growth of antibiotic-resistant bacteria without causing hemolysis in the blood, and since low concentrations are required, the polymers do so without promoting significant toxicity. Developed by scientists at the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (IBN) and IBM Research - Almaden, the biodegradable polymers reportedly have "great potential to treat infectious diseases in the body."
To combat so-called "superbugs", like methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), researchers have been investigating the use of synthetic polymers with antimicrobial properties for the most effective means of antibiotic delivery. Conventional antibiotics penetrate the microorganisms without damaging the bacteria's cell wall and membrane, and because of this, bacteria can develop resistance against these drugs. Antimicrobial polymers, however, break down the bacterial cell wall and membrane based on electrostatic interaction with the bacteria to prevent drug resistance....