With the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology in Singapore, IBM has tailored the chemistry of semiconductor manufacturing to build nanostructures that fight infectious diseases.
at IBM and the Institute
of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology
in Singapore have taken some of
the chemicals used to create chips and servers to build polymers that can
detect and destroy antibiotic-resistant bacteria and infectious diseases such
as staph infections or MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus).
Singapore institute performs research on how to use nanotechnology to advance
areas such as drug and gene delivery, cancer therapy and wound healing.
formed at IBM's Almaden research facility in northern California are used to
generate 22-nanometer or 14-nanometer nodes. These nanostructures can also
attract infected cells and eradicate MSRA bacteria while leaving healthy cells
this discovery we've been able to leverage decades of materials development
traditionally used for semiconductor technologies to create an entirely new
drug delivery mechanism that could make them more specific and effective," Dr.
James Hedrick, advanced organic materials scientist for IBM
, said in a statement.
MRSA is an
increasingly common bacteria found in public places such as gyms, schools and
hospitals, and its cell walls and membranes are often resistant to drugs, IBM
reports. Antibiotics that can fight MRSA also kill healthy red blood cells at
the same time.
number of bacteria in the palm of a hand outnumbers the entire human
population," Hedrick said.
built from the same chemical process as semiconductors could heal wounds,
tuberculosis and lung infections and eventually appear in consumer products
such as deodorant, soap, hand sanitizers, table wipes and preservatives.
polymers are very important in terms of next-generation electronics, but we
found that the capabilities we've developed are very useful for broader
problems of societal impact, like antimicrobial materials to combat superbugs
like MRSA," Bob Allen, senior manager for advanced materials in the
chemistry department at IBM Research-Almaden, told eWEEK.
our novel nanostructures, we can offer a viable therapeutic solution for the
treatment of MRSA and other infectious diseases," Dr. Yiyan Yang, group
leader for the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology, Singapore, said
in a statement. "This exciting discovery effectively integrates our
capabilities in biomedical sciences and materials research to address key
issues in conventional drug delivery."
bacteria resistance, researchers assemble nanoparticles in water through
electrostatic interaction, while penetrating the bacteria's cell membranes and
walls, and leaving healthy cells untouched, IBM reports.
water, the polymers assemble and build nanostructures of 100 nanometers in
size, Allen explained.
nanomedical polymers are biodegradable, allowing them to fight the bacteria and
then leave the body naturally, he said.
project, announced on April 4, IBM and the Singapore institute tested the
antimicrobial polymers with microbial samples from State Key Laboratory for
Diagnosis and Treatment of Infectious Diseases at First Affiliated Hospital,
located at the Zhejiang University School of Medicine, in China.
developing chemicals for microelectronics, precisely constructed materials are
essential, according to Allen.
nanotechnology used to build the disease-fighting polymers can also be found in
IBM's DNA-transistor technology, in which IBM scientists drill nano-size holes
in computerlike chips to send DNA strands through them and enable the chips to
read the genetic code.
addition, IBM is using nanotechnology to decode DNA along with pharmaceutical
and diagnostics company Roche to personalize medicine