UK & World News
IBM Designs Gel To Blow Up Hospital Superbugs
IBM has applied computing technology to the medical field to create a gel that could obliterate hospital superbugs.
Researchers at the firm have taken the semiconductor material that allows the quick transfer of computer messages and used it to explode the bacteria.
The aim is to replace antibiotics, which have been overprescribed, leading to an increasing resistance of hospital-acquired infections to treatment.
Antibiotics cannot penetrate the bacteria in a way that the anti-microbial gel can, and its development has significant implications for the eradication of hospital superbugs.
Although development of the gel is at an early stage, it is envisaged it could be used to coat medical equipment to prevent infection.
It could also be used in drugs or injected directly into wound sites to clear the infection.
Nearly 43,000 people contracted a hospital infection in the UK in a year, figures released last year show, and the NHS has had to pay out £20m in compensation to patients in the past three years.
James Hedrick, from IBM Research, said the gel had "immense potential".
"This new technology is appearing at a crucial time as traditional chemical and biological techniques for dealing with drug-resistant bacteria and infectious diseases are increasingly problematic," he said.
Nano-technology is an expanding field of research and is becoming increasingly important in the medical field.
IBM started its nano-medicine polymer program in its research labs four years ago.
It worked with the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology in Singapore on the gel.
According to a recent Health Protection Agency report, some 6% of patients acquire an infection of hospital during their stay.