Superbug Drills

Superbug invasion? Call out the Dynamic Duo! 

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

We love our antibiotic superheroes! They help destroy disease-causing microorganisms. But not always! Some deadly superbugs can become resistant to antibiotics by building a mighty fortress against them. What then?

An international team of researchers led by Jeffrey Cirillo from Texas A&M University wondered: does the superbug have an Achilles’ heel? To find out, the researchers designed microscopic molecules resembling tiny motors. The motor activates with light. 

Next, they took antibiotic resistant bacteria that causes pneumonia. The researchers exposed these superbugs to a mixture of antibiotics and light-activated molecular motors.  

These mini motors literally drilled their way through the fortress! The antibiotic was able to hitchhike inside and do its job. Results? Most bacteria died, even with low doses of the antibiotic. 

Because sometimes a superhero just needs a little help…and a ride!