Researchers have developed a way to coat surfaces with an enzyme that kills MRSA within 20 minutes of contact, says a recent publication in ACS Nano. The enzyme, lysostaphin, degrades cell walls of Staphylococcus aureus and epidermidis, thus killing the harmful bacteria.
The researchers had spent several years studying carbon nanotube-enzyme pairs, called conjugates. Enzymes in coating alone either degrade or leach into the surroundings, but when paired with carbon nanotubes, the authors found that the enzymes were more stable and more densely packed when embedded into polymers such as paint.
Lysostaphin is extremely selective, killing just S. aureus and epidermidis, is harmless to humans, and does not induce bacterial resistance. The enzyme-nanotube conjugate also doesn’t become clogged over time, a common problem with other antimicrobial coatings. Perhaps most impressively, antimicrobial films made with the conjugate were greater than 99% effective in killing all MRSA that came in contact with the film, measured after 2 hours. And there’s even more: the films are reusable and washable, and stable under dry storage conditions for at least a month.
The lysostaphin-nanotube conjugate could be embedded into paint used in hospital rooms, or into films to put on various other hospital surfaces. It will be extremely exciting to see how this technology is put to use.
Link to ACS Nano abstract: http://pubs.acs.org/doi/full/10.1021/nn100932t