Oxygen Is Used as a Weapon To Kill Disease And Infections

When the life-threatening bacteria methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus – MRSA appears inside a hospital, it’s difficult to treat being so resistant to antibiotics. Many other bacteria start to become resistant to antibiotics, so researchers looked for a different approach.

They used light to activate oxygen and wipe out this bacteria and many other similar infections – a solution to be used in skin cancer treatment.

The results of this research have been presented today at the 256th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS).

According to the team of researchers led by Peng Zhang (Ph.D., University of Cincinnati), as an alternative to antibiotics, they could “use photosensitizers, mostly dye molecules, that become excited when illuminated with light.” These photosensitizers would then “convert oxygen into reactive oxygen species that attack the bacteria.”

Noble Metals Boosted Light-Activated Oxygen

Facing some technical challenges, Zhang’s team collaborated with his colleague Neil Ayres, Ph.D. and his team. Together, they designed a water-dispersible, hybrid photosensitizer. The photosensitizer included nanoparticles of noble metal and amphiphilic polymers to trap the molecular photosensitizers.

This photosensitizer was effective in killing many types of bacteria compared to one that didn’t have those metal nanoparticles. These noble metal nanoparticles enhanced the effect, promoting very reactive oxygen species and concentrating the photosensitizers in a place to hit the bacterial cells at once. Zhang explains his approach:

“If you want to attack a castle, and you just let all these people attack individually, it is not very effective. Instead, if you have the same number of people grouped together attacking the castle at one point, it is possible to cause more damage.”

The nanoparticles can eradicate MRSA, nail bed fungus and even skin cancer cells – so it could be used in skin cancer treatment.

Zhang also concluded that the light-activated oxygen method is great in eliminating infection in case of wounds and helps them heal faster.

Doris’s passion for writing started to take shape in college where she was editor-in-chief of the college newspaper. Even though she ended up working in IT for more than 7 years, she’s now back to what he always enjoyed doing. With a true passion for technology, Doris mostly covers tech-related topics.