Any baby boomer like myself hears “IBM” and thinks computers. Soon we may be associating them with a cure for deadly superbugs. An article in CNET News entitled “IBM says it has tool to kill deadly drug-resistant superbugs” announces that IBM, working in conjunction with the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology, say they have come up with what they’re calling an antimicrobial hydrogel that can successfully fight the superbugs that are behind killers like MRSA.
I can vouch for the severity of MRSA. My father picked it up in the hospital and it ate a hole to the bone in his leg within a week. It took months of IV antibiotic treatment to bring under control. We were fortunate he responded to the treatment.
IBM Research and its collaborators developed a remoldable synthetic antimicrobial hydrogel, comprised of more than 90% water, which, if commercialized, is ideal for applications like creams or injectable therapeutics for wound healing, implant and catheter coatings, skin infections or even orifice barriers.
Able to colonize on almost any tissue or surface, microbial biofilms – which are adhesive groupings of diseased cells present in 80% of all infections – persist at various sites in the human body, especially in association with medical equipment and devices. They contribute significantly to hospital-acquired infections, which are among the top five leading causes of death in the United States and account for up to $11 billion in healthcare spending each year.
This is an amazing medical breakthrough. Ultimately it may have a greater impact than the ubiquitous IBM computer ever did. Bravo IBM. Now let me call my stockbroker!