Mixed News in E Coli Research
Two new pieces of research into e-coli bacteria have produced very different results. Researchers at the University of Alberta have discovered that some strains of the bacteria can survive temperatures above 70 degrees centigrade. A selection of 16 genes have been identified in the heat resistant strains, which account for approximately 2% of the identified types of e-coli, including some that are responsible for illness.
In a separate study, scientists in Singapore have pioneered a new material that can effectively kill e-coli bacteria in just 30 seconds on contact. Researchers from the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (IBN) of Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), found that the material called imidazolium oligomers killed all strains of the bacteria with a 99.7% success rate.
It works by attacking the bacteria’s cell membrane as lead researcher Dr Yugen Zhang explained; “Computational chemistry studies supported our experimental findings that the chain-like compound works by attacking the cell membrane. Our unique material can kill bacteria rapidly and inhibit the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.”
In contrast, traditional antibiotics do not damage the cell structure which allows new drug resistant strains to develop in time. The material, which comes in soluble white powder form and forms a gel when mixed with alcohol, can be used safely in all settings as it is designed to target negatively charged e-coli bacteria while leaving red blood cells unharmed.
The material has also proved effective against other strains of antibiotic resistant bacteria including Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa.