Superbugs To Be Eliminated From the International Space Station With Antimicrobial Coating

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Superbugs are bacteria that have become resistant to antibiotics. Every year, over 1 million people get sick from a superbug that is untreatable or is treatable with a lot of antibiotics. According to new research, harmless bacteria transform into deadly superbugs under space conditions.

The International Space Station is a space station found in low Earth orbit, where one might think that superbugs couldn’t get, but unfortunately for astronauts, that is not true. Every time astronauts leave Earth, and they take with them bacteria and viruses that can thrive even in the outer space.

“Spaceflight can turn harmless bacteria into potential pathogens,” said Elisabeth Grohmann, a microbiologist at Beuth University of Applied Sciences

How to get rid of superbugs from the International Space Station?

Because astronauts are already prone to immunity alteration from the extreme conditions, that they have to face every second, such as space radiations or microgravity, researchers started to test a new antimicrobial coating called AGXX, as to prevent them from getting infections. This coating is made up of silver and ruthenium treated with vitamin C and can kill all sorts of bacteria, fungi, yeasts, and viruses.

This coating proves to be effective, since astronauts tested it for 19 months, coating surfaces such as the toilet door, after which only 12 bacteria were found. “Most importantly, no serious human pathogens such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) or vancomycin-resistant Enterococci (VRE) were found on any surface. Thus, the infection risk for the crew is low”, Grohmann said.

AGXX might prove useful for long space travels

That is an essential step because in past few years, NASA has talked about sending people to Mars or even farther away and astronauts will be isolated for many months or even years on spacecraft during their travel.

Finding solutions against superbugs would be useful to avoid the transformation of harmless bacteria into deadly ones.

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.