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See Inside December 2011

Nano-Size Germ Killers

Tiny knives could be important weapons against superbugs

DRUG-RESISTANT TUBERCULOSIS IS ROARING through Europe, according to the World Health Organization. Treatment options are few—antibiotics do not work on these highly evolved strains—and about 50 percent of people who contract the disease will die from it. The grim situation mirrors the fight against other drug-resistant diseases such as MRSA, a staph infection that claims 19,000 lives in the U.S. every year.

Hope comes in the form of a nanotech knife. Scientists working at IBM Research– Almaden have designed a nanoparticle capable of utterly destroying bacterial cells by piercing their membranes.

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