Imagine if there were a remote-control electronic device that could be implanted at an infection site, where it would treat the infection by heating or medicating the affected tissue. While it might be very effective, subsequent infections could result if surgeons went in to remove it, or even if they just left it in place. That's why scientists from Tufts University and the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana have developed infection-treating implants that simply dissolve into the body once they've served their purpose.
It’s no secret we are facing an antibiotic crisis. Overuse has caused widespread antibiotic resistance, leading the World Health Organisation to declare we are "headed for a post-antibiotic era, in which common infections and minor injuries which have been treatable for decades can once again kill." Scientists from the University of Bern have developed a new non-antibiotic compound that treats severe bacterial infections and avoids the problem of bacterial resistance.
Today, when we think of the dangers of the battlefield, we think of wounds caused by bullets, bombs, and other weapons. But as late as the Spanish American war of 1898, the number of soldiers who died from infectious diseases as opposed to directly from combat injuries was seven to one. Thanks to the discovery of penicillin and other antibiotics, that ratio has swung dramatically the other way, but it’s still a major problem, not only for military personnel, but civilians too. DARPA is developing an artificial spleen
, or "biospleen," as a way to help fight deadly infections without antibiotics.
We've seen several promising developments arise in recent years in the fight against antibiotic-resistant bacteria, or so-called "superbugs", from antibiotic "smart bombs
" and hydrogels
to "ninja polymers
" and natural proteins
. The latest potential weapon to join the armory comes from a substance used for thousands of years to fight infections – raw honey.
Drug-resistant bacteria, or so-called superbugs, pose a very real threat to public health. The over prescription and consumption of antibiotics has contributed to a resilient new breed of germs that could see minor infections once again evolve into life-threatening conditions. The latest development in the fight against this threat comes from scientists at Queens University in Belfast, who have produced an antibacterial gel capable of breaking through a protective casing and killing off certain types of drug-resistant bacteria.
Even with advances in gels
, burns remain a difficult injury to treat. This applies particularly to parts of the body where the skin bends around bones and joints, creating surfaces unfavorable to most types of bandaging. But researchers from Japan's Tokai University have developed a new ultra-thin material that clings to those trickier locations, serving to ward off infectious bacteria.
It is estimated that every year in America there are around 76 million food-borne illnesses that result in 325,000 hospitalizations and over 5,000 deaths. One of the main causes is the disease "Listeria", which has the highest hospitalization (92 per cent) and death (18 per cent) rate among all food-borne pathogen infections. Now researchers at the University of Southampton say that they are trialling a device designed to detect these bacteria directly on food preparation services, and without the need to send samples away for laboratory testing.
With a well established ability to kill off bacteria, silver has come to play a significant role in the development of antimicrobial materials. Indeed, we've seen it used in keyboards
, built into water filtration systems
and deployed in washing machines
as a means of fending off germs. The latest effort to harness the bacteria-fighting qualities of silver comes from researchers at Australia's RMIT University working with scientists from the CSIRO, who have developed an antibacterial fabric capable of killing off E. coli and other infectious bacteria within 10 minutes of contact.
To monitor their infection levels, people carrying chronic viral infections such as hepatitis and HIV need to get their viral load regularly checked. This measures how many viruses are present in a certain volume of blood or bodily fluid with current tests being expensive and needing to be done through laboratories. However, newly developed optical techniques being developed by two independent teams at the University of California could deliver cheaper and faster viral load tests that could be carried out in a medical office, hospital or even in the field.
Although it may be surprising to hear that being in the hospital can make
a person sick, it definitely does happen. In the United States, about one in every 20 people admitted to a hospital will end up with a healthcare acquired infection, or HAI. Of those people, approximately 100,000 die from such infections annually. One of the keys to reducing the occurrence of HAIs is to get healthcare workers to wash their hands frequently and thoroughly – which is just what the intelligentM bracelet is designed to do.