MRSA (Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus) infections have been a major nuisance lately in hospitals around the world. Since most antibiotics don’t help, researchers at University of California, San Diego have been working on a technique to capture and neutralize the toxins produced by the bacteria at the site of infection.
To do this, the team developed a hydrogel full of tiny nanosponges that are able to absorb toxins from different sources. The nanosponges were coated with red blood cell membranes, which attract toxins that would normally target real blood cells. The nanosponges are not very fast at what they do, but the polymer hydrogel keeps can keep them stationary for long periods at the site of the infection, giving them the time to absorb nearby toxins.
The team tested the compound on laboratory mice, showing that the hydrogel keeps most of the nanosponges in place while significantly reducing the growth of MRSA skin lesions.