The overuse and misuse of antibiotics has led to antimicrobial resistance (AMR) on such a scale that it has become one of the greatest threats to global health. So much so that the UN organized a high level meeting on the issue in September 2016.
It is estimated that in 2050, superbugs resistant to antibiotics will kill 10 million people.
The person who could prevent this human catastrophe is Shu Lam, a 26-year-old Malaysian student doctoral student at the University of Melbourne. While other scientists are looking for new antibiotics to kill superbugs, Lam tackles the problem from a completely different angle.
Source: The Telegraph
Lam has developed a more direct and aggressive approach to getting rid of super-bacteria that could save the lives of millions of people.
She did not develop super antibiotics to kill superbugs. She did not develop antibiotics. She developed a star-shaped polymer capable of killing six strains of super-bacteria simply by disrupting their cell walls.
“We have discovered that (polymers) actually target the bacterium and kill it in a variety of ways. One method is to physically disrupt or dislocate the cell wall of the bacteria and cause the onset of its death, “Lam told The Telegraph.
The star-shaped molecules each have 16 or 32 “arms” created from peptide polymers, a process that it compares to the placement of small Lego blocks. When they are triggered, polymers directly attack bacteria, unlike antibiotics, which create a toxic swamp that also destroys healthy cells nearby.
Lam tested his star-shaped polymers on six strains of drug-resistant bacteria in the laboratory, and on a superbug in live mice and even after several mutations, no superbugs survived.
Melbourne, the city where Shu Lam conducted his research
But the warnings given as soon as possible are not taken into account.
The discovery of penicillin in 1928 saved millions of lives and changed the world forever.
But even when the doctors were able to cure all kinds of infections, Alexander Fleming, who discovered penicillin, warned in his 1945 Nobel lecture:
“There will come a time when penicillin can be bought by anyone in stores. Then there will be a danger because the ignorant can easily be treated with small doses and exposing his microbes to non-lethal doses, the latter will become resistant. “