Building on an enzyme found in nature, researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have created a nanoscale coating for surgical equipment, hospital walls, and other surfaces which safely eradicates methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), the bacteria responsible for antibiotic resistant infections.

“We’re building on nature,” said Jonathan S. Dordick, the Howard P. Isermann Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering, and director of Rensselaer’s Center for Biotechnology & Interdisciplinary Studies. “Here we have a system where the surface contains an enzyme that is safe to handle, doesn’t appear to lead to resistance, doesn’t leach into the environment, and doesn’t clog up with cell debris. The MRSA bacteria come in contact with the surface, and they’re killed.”

In tests, 100 percent of MRSA in solution were killed within 20 minutes of contact with a surface painted with latex paint laced with the coating.

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$4.6 million grant will enable the production of larger quantities of a safer synthetic version of the blood thinner heparin

 

In early 2008, there was a frightening failure in drug safety processes. In just a few weeks, more than 100 Americans had died after being administered contaminated doses of the common blood thinner heparin. The contaminant, present in heparin manufactured in China and discovered with the help of scientists from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, was so structurally similar to pure heparin that it was undetectable to all but the most sophisticated detection techniques. As a result, many people become seriously ill or died around the world and the several hundred thousand patients that receive the drug every day in the U.S. were put at risk.

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