Breakthrough

25-year-old student finds potential solution ‘that could change the face of modern medicine’

Shu Lam (Twitter).

Shu Lam, a 25-year-old Ph.D. student at the University of Melbourne in Australia has developed a solution to fighting the so-called “superbugs,” which are resistant to every known type of antibiotics and have been deemed a “fundamental threat” to global health by the United Nations recently. Some 700,000 people die each year because of these bugs, a number that might rise to 10 million by 2050, according to a recent study. Lam, however, has now developed a star-shaped polymer that would be able to attack the superbug bacteria, without the need for antibiotics. “We’ve discovered that [the polymers] actually target the bacteria and kill it in multiple ways,” Lam told The Telegraph. “One method is by physically disrupting or breaking apart the cell wall of the bacteria. This creates a lot of stress on the bacteria and causes it to start killing itself.”

While the method so far has only been tested in the lab and on mice, all experiments have been successful and, according to The Telegraph, some scientists in the field have already dubbed it “a breakthrough that could change the face of modern medicine.” While it is an exciting discovery, the research process is still in its very early stages and we should be cautious about the potential for actual clinical application in humans. Nevertheless, the fact that Lam found a new way to approach the problem (besides finding new antibiotics) is a cause for celebration. “I wanted to be involved in some kind of research that would help solve problems,”, Lam said. “I really hope that the polymers we are trying to develop here could eventually be a solution.”

Read the full story at Science Alert.

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