Nano-enzymes, a group of inorganic molecules with catalytic efficiency, have been proposed as promising antimicrobials against bacteria. It is effective at killing bacteria, thanks to its production of reactive oxygen species (ROS).
Despite this feature, nanoparticles are generally toxic to both bacteria and mammalian cells, that is, they are toxic to our cells. This is mainly due to the intrinsic inability of ROS to distinguish between bacteria and mammalian cells.
In a study published in Nature connections, The research team led by XIONG Yujie and YANG Lihua of the University of Science and Technology (USTC) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) proposed a new method for building effective but low-toxic nano-enzymes.
Researchers have shown that the nano-enzymes that generate surface reactive oxygen species (ROS) selectively kill bacteria, while leaving mammalian cells safe.
The selectivity is attributed, on the one hand, to the surface bound nature of ROS resulting from the nanoparticles prepared by the team, and on the other hand, to the unexpected antidote role to endocytosis, a cytological process common to mammalian cells while absent in bacteria.
Moreover, the researchers observed a few different nanoparticles that generate different types of reactive oxygen species, but differed in chemical components and in physical structures, and ended up discovering that the antibacterial behaviors are similar. This fact came to the conclusion that the advantage of selective killing of bacteria over mammalian cells is the general characteristic of nanoparticles that produce surface reactive oxygen species.
Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a threat to global health, which is why our use of medicines against germs is gradually becoming less effective.
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