Scientists in Boston, looking into new optical microscope techniques, have unexpectedly been able to break down MRSA’s surrounding membrane, using blue light.
Scientists from Boston University’s College of Engineering in Massachusetts have announced success at weakening pathogens by using blue light to attack them on a molecular level.
Prof. Cheng and his colleagues happened across blue light’s potential by accident, during experimentation with new optical microscope techniques.
They were using Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) as their microscopic subject but soon found it too unstable for their purposes; the microscope’s blue light was bleaching the bacterium’s staphyloxanthin (STX) molecule.
The team was further surprised, and excited, to learn that their photobleaching ultimately caused their entire S. aureus colony to die. Being able to kill S. aureus is no small thing.
S. aureus is arguably the clearest harbinger of an imminent postantibiotic era.
Methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) causes skin and soft tissue infections, sepsis, and pneumonia.
Methicillin was the first antibiotic to fail against MRSA, and the bacterium has since become extremely difficult to treat with other antibiotics, as well.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), MRSA is responsible for many of the 2.8 million antibiotic resistant infections, and the 35,000 resulting deaths each year in the United States.
Further study revealed that when the microscope’s blue light photons broke down STX, small openings appeared all over the membranes protecting the MRSA cells, and 90% of the colony died.
However, when dealing with a fast-moving bacterium like MRSA, that is not enough: Within half-an-hour, the cells were dividing again.
Thus, blue light photolysis looks to be the first strike in a one-two punch that can take out antibiotic resistant pathogens.
Part of what makes blue light photolysis so attractive, as a therapy, is that it does not damage normal cells.
Medical reference: medical news today