McMaster researchers have developed a novel new gel made entirely from bacteria-killing viruses.
The anti-bacterial gel, which can be targeted to attack specific forms of bacteria, holds promise for numerous beneficial applications in medicine and environmental protection.
Among many possibilities, it could be used as an antibacterial coating for implants and artificial joints, as a sterile growth scaffold for human tissue, or in environmental cleanup operations, says chemical engineer Zeinab Hosseini-Doust.
Her lab, which specializes in developing engineering solutions for infectious disease, grew, extracted and packed together so many of the viruses – called bacteriophages, or simply phages – that they assembled themselves spontaneously into liquid crystals and, with the help of a chemical binder, formed into a gelatin-like substance that can heal itself when cut.
Yellow in colour and resembling Jell-O, a single millilitre of the antibacterial gel contains 300 trillion phages, which are the most numerous organisms on Earth, outnumbering all other organisms combined, including bacteria.

“Phages are all around us, including inside our bodies,” explains Hosseini-Doust. “Phages are bacteria’s natural predators. Wherever there are bacteria, there are phages. What is unique here is the concentration we were able to achieve in the lab, to create a solid material.”

Image Credit: JD Howell, McMaster University

Read more at nanowerk.com

News This Week

Chemistry in the turbulent interstellar medium

Over 200 molecules have been discovered in space, some (like Buckminsterfullerene) very complex with carbon atoms. Besides being intrinsically interesting, these molecules radiate away heat, helping giant clouds of interstellar material cool and contract [...]