Superbugs

In our modern world, if you got sick, you would back yourself to find a cure, medically speaking. From smallpox to tuberculosis, we have managed to eradicate or address many illnesses caused by virus and bacteria. The Centre for Disease Control estimates that over two million people each year contract a superbug; something for which there is no known cure. These are drug-resistant infections cannot be treated by available antibiotics, even multiple ones used conjunctly. In theory, any bacteria can turn into a superbug, as the bug develops resistance to therapy, especially if the treatment is overused. It is possible to contract such illnesses from visiting a hospital or even being in public places.

A study was recently conducted to explore the possibility of treating superbugs using light. More specifically, a specific wavelength of light called quantum dots. A quantum dot is a microscopic particle or semiconductor only several nanometers in size. They are so small that their properties differ from those of large particles. These light activated nano-particles can be used to target infections like E.Coli and Salmonella. Ordinarily immune to treatment, these bugs apparently drop their resistance to light, unaware that the objective of the light is to exterminate them. The light achieves its goals by emitting a superoxide, a chemical that interrupts the normal metabolic process that these superbugs use to ward off invaders. The light particles can be turned on and off using a specific wavelength of light allowing them to be used in specific situations.

The advent of new technology is always accompanied with renewed fear. Fear of the consequences of what we are doing and the inability of humans to truly control the outcome. Anti-biotics led to drug-resistant bacteria and virus. It would boggle the mind to predict what a nanoparticle resistant bacteria would look like and do. In the meantime, if you have contracted a superbug, turn on the light.