Light-Activated Nanoparticles Can Supercharge Current Antibiotics

Source: University of Colorado, Boulder

Summary: Researchers found that Nanoparticles activated by light can supercharge the antibiotics used to fight drug-resistant superbugs such as E.coli and Salmonella.

New antibiotic treatments to treat the multi-drug resistant pathogens which evolve their defenses faster, cost the U.S an estimated 20 billion in healthcare costs and 35 billion in lost productivity in 2013. Researchers at BioFrontiers Institute, University of Colorado were able to supercharge existing antibiotics for certain clinical isolate infections by introducing light-activated nanoparticles called as quantum dots. The findings were published in the journal, Science Advances.

Light activated nanoparticles


The quantum dots can be deployed selectively and can be activated or deactivated using specific wavelengths of light. These dots release a chemical species called superoxide, which interferes with bacteria’s metabolic and cellular processes and triggers a fight response that makes bacteria more sensitive to the original antibiotic. The dots reduced the antibiotic resistance of the bacteria by a factor of 1000 with almost no adverse side effects.

Asst. Prof. Anushree Chatterjee said, “We are thinking more like the bug, This is a novel strategy that plays against the infection’s normal strength and catalyzes the antibiotic instead” and further added, “Disease works much faster than we do, Medicine needs to evolve as well.”

More Information: Colleen M. Courtney et al, “Potentiating antibiotics in drug-resistant clinical isolates via stimuli-activated superoxide generation”, Science Advances (2017). DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1701776

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