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Safe New Compound Destroys E. Coli Quickly

June 19, 2016: 12:00 AM EST
Singapore researchers have developed a safe antimicrobial material that could be used in consumer and personal care products to prevent the spread of infectious diseases. The material kills harmful E. coli bacteria by penetrating cell membranes in less than a minute. A major reason for the spread of antibiotics-resistant bacteria is triclosan, an antibacterial ingredient found in toothpastes and other products. To find a suitable replacement for triclosan, the researchers synthesized a chemical compound using imidazolium oligomers that can kill 99.7 percent of E. coli within 30 seconds of contact. The material is safe for human use because it “carries a positive charge that targets the more negatively charged bacteria, without destroying red blood cells," the researchers said. The material could be used in alcoholic sprays for sterilization in hospitals or homes.
Siti Nurhanna Riduan et al., "Ultrafast Killing and Self-Gelling Antimicrobial Imidazolium Oligomers. ", Small, June 19, 2016, © John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
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