back to article IBM turns plastic bottles into life-saving 'ninja' MRSA, fungus fighters

IBM nanomedicine researchers working with Singapore's Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (IBN) have come up with a method for recycling plastic bottles – specifically those made with polyethylene terephthalate (PET) – to defeat drug-resistant fungal infections as well as bacterial infections such as MRSA. "Our …

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  2. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    I love science!

    I get regularly depressed reading about the latest ways that big corporations and governments spend billions to kill and maim people in more inventive ways, but whenever I'm down suddenly something like this comes along and restores my faith that there loads of GOOD boffins out there who want to make the world a better place.

    Recycled drinks bottles for heaven's sake - could it get any neater? A cure for diabetes made out of sweet wrappers?

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: I love science!

      > big corporations and governments

      Don't get fooled by legal status. These are ALL "government".

      1. Steve Knox

        Re: I love science!

        > big corporations and governments

        Don't get fooled by legal status. These are ALL "government".

        Don't be fooled by popular labels. They are ALL corporations.

    2. Wzrd1

      Re: I love science!

      "I get regularly depressed reading about the latest ways that big corporations and governments spend billions to kill and maim people in more inventive ways..."

      Well, in fair balance, during my decades of military service in the US Army, I fired machineguns made by IBM and the Singer sewing machine company.

      Technology can be used to help or harm. At least now, it's helping.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Type of bottle matters!

    Dr. Pepper bottles work better than Mountain Dew bottles...

    1. Mark Allen
      Pint

      Re: Type of bottle matters!

      I assume Irn-Bru bottles will produce the toughest Ninjas.

  4. Tromos

    Up with this sort of thing

    If this is what IBM working with IBN can come up with, the sooner IBO and IBP are also brought in, the better!

    Seriously though - good stuff, antibiotics seemed to be slowly losing the battle.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Joke

    a warning to all

    Don't piss off Watson.

  6. James 51 Silver badge

    This is stuff worth patenting. Hope it doesn't end up not making out onto the hospital floor and more power to them.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      On the contrary.

      This is the stuff worth NOT patenting.

      1. MrDamage

        Re: On the contrary.

        Agreed. Some things are too valuable to the human race to hide behind patents.

        We were able to beat polio because Jonas Salk refused to patent the vaccine, leaving it free for anyone to make and distribute in order to combat that disease.

        IBM could buy an imperial fuckton of goodwill by not patenting this. If they do patent it, it will just go to show them to be a bunch of grubby, money hungry patent whores.

        1. Buzzword

          Re: On the contrary.

          Goodwill? Can they pay their scientists with goodwill? Can they pay their suppliers with goodwill? Can the pensioners who rely on their IBM share dividends heat their homes with goodwill?

          For a similar reaction, try asking a professional photographer or graphic designer to do some work for free. Tell them it'll make a great portfolio piece, or it'll look good on their CV, or some such nonsense. Or how about you just give away years of your work in exchange for "goodwill"?

          1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

            Re: On the contrary. @Buzzword

            And there is the difference between us. If I ever come up with something that has this potential for good, I will be honoured to make it open to anyone to use, regardless of the claims of scientists, suppliers, pensioners, photographers and graphic designers (or, closer to home, my family or cats).

            1. Wzrd1

              Re: On the contrary. @Buzzword

              " If I ever come up with something that has this potential for good, I will be honoured to make it open to anyone to use..."

              Honour does not pay the bills, nor does it replace supplies or pay employees.

              Personally, I'd patent it, recover the money spent in research, then donate the patent to the populace of this planet.

              1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

                Re: On the contrary. @Buzzword

                That's another plan. Nonetheless, I'd still publish the technique and all relevant details and sod the bills - there is more to the world than money.

  7. DanceMan
    Thumb Up

    Great News!

    I had MRSA a few years ago. From a quarter-sized hole near my knee treated at a hospital my leg from knee to ankle turned dark red and swelled up like a balloon. It took over a week of daily visits to emergency for an IV antibiotic to kill it. Antibiotics are losing the battle against MRSA and other stronger, deadlier resistant infections. I'm surprised that this news was not headline material on the radio and tv broadcasts.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Great News!

      There is actually something that can kill many strains of MRSA. You can thank the government for not taking the initiative and allowing it to be used. It is stabilized allicin and the best part, it is natural and not a man made drug. The Brits use it, the US does not as everything has to be pass through the FDA so they can get paid first. Allicin is tried and true but yet the FDA still requires all of the testing and money to be paid. So, the company doesn't sell it in the US and we are left using antibiotics to treat and let MRSA get more and more resistant to antibiotics. The governments try to talk about the global economy but when it comes to government, they prefer isolationism.

      1. Wzrd1

        Re: Great News!

        "Allicin is tried and true but yet the FDA still requires all of the testing and money to be paid."

        Whether you believe it or not, it isn't getting paid that matters to the FDA.

        It's nonsensical laws that forbid the US FDA to accept the testing results of other nations drug approval authorities.

        Problems result whenever politicians legislate, rather than having science regulate. Hence, heroin is illegal in the US, proclaimed as only an abuse drug, whereas in civilized nations, it is prescribed for severe pain.

  8. Chris Holford
    WTF?

    Biodegradable?

    So, if nano-ninjas kill bacteria and fungi, the what bio agent degrades them when they've done their work?

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Holmes

      Re: Biodegradable?

      Good question - the body's cleanup mechanism, I reckon.

      Now, the interesting part of this is: a good part a few percent at least of the body mass is bacteria and assorted hangers-on. Any side effects here?

      Still, good work. Anyway is the research on phage theraphy coming btw?

    2. Marvin the Martian

      Re: Biodegradable? More: what's the rest's charge?

      Are fungi and bacteria the only negatively charged cells and molecules going around? Is the rest neutral or positively charged? Are there other baddies that are not

      The whole thing balances on relative timescales and abundances: If you're dying from MRSA then this stuff destroying e.g. all vitamins it comes across is a fair tradeoff --- provided it biodegrades away in hours, and effectively kills MRSA in the hours before. If it scoops up only the odd MRSA here and there while wreaking wholescale destruction on the balance of other things, and then persist for months before biodegradation, then that's not so superior. "Biodegradation" implies your body is actively attacking it, so it's not 'neutral'.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hope it's more expensive than anti-biotics

    It don't really hope it's expensive, but if it is as cheap as anti-biotics are the ******* drug companies probably won't produce it. Maybe we need a new MRSA that likes to live in drug company board rooms.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: Hope it's more expensive than anti-biotics

      If there is no patent of cheap-to-have patent, Chinese Stalls will sell it to you as needed.

    2. Wzrd1

      Re: Hope it's more expensive than anti-biotics

      "but if it is as cheap as anti-biotics are the ******* drug companies probably won't produce it."

      Which is why antibiotics aren't made, even simple aspirin isn't available, because it's cheap and no drug company makes it, right?

  10. Mahou Saru

    Nice for once...

    To see a big tech name behind something really great rather then just suing the {insert expletive of choice} out of each other!

  11. bep

    Can you put this stuff on your toenails?

    If so then the drug companies might actually produce it in large quantities.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just for reference

    "bacteria" and "fungi" are the plurals of "bacterium" and "fungus". A little grammar often assists clarity.

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