Because it’s 6.91 Billion of Us to 5 Million Trillion Trillion of Them

Number of people on Earth to number of bacteria, that is. They’re everywhere. EVERYWHERE. And we’re making them stronger, and getting sicker because of it. MRSA: Antibiotic-resistant staph.  a.k.a. - seriously evil stuff.
MRSA: Antibiotic-resistant staph. a.k.a. - seriously evil stuff.Courtesy Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Hey, nanoscale science, this is your cue!

[Enter nanoscale science]

Hi! I’m nanoscale science! And boy, have I got some whiz-bang anti-bacterial solutions for you!

For one, there’s this new type of drug that uses nanoparticles to poke holes in bacteria so they die. Sounds really promising against super-bugs…but then again, all the scientists are hoping that if the bacteria in question leave any survivors, we won’t end up with super, SUPER bugs. Because that would be so NOT super.

Because here’s the thing:

“The medical community has for so long been focused on killing as much of the bacteria as they can. Now the interesting thing about bacteria is that you can’t kill them all. You can kill 99% of them, but that 1% that you leave alive is the strongest 1%.” This is from Dr. Shravanthi Reddy – Director of Research at Sharklet Technologies, Inc. She makes a good point. “We can’t keep fighting that same traditional war. We kind of have to shift our thinking. Kind of convince them, ‘hey, you don’t want to settle here.’”

For two, Sharklet Technologies has created this stuff that mimics the skin of actual sharks. Turns out that sharks don’t ever get covered in algae or barnacles or anything like that, but whales and other marine life do. Why? It’s because shark skin has a very special pattern to it – called dermal denticles - a pattern that bacteria apparently hate and can’t really figure out how to properly colonize. There’s nothing chemical about it – it’s all about the shape of the material itself.

Our friends over at Nova made a great program about it:

Granted, we’re pretty limited with how we can treat nasty super-bacteria, like antibiotic-resistant staph infections and MRSA, once it’s in the human body – so we probably shouldn’t rule out our hole-poking options just yet - but we can put this awesome sharkskin technology to work in the places people are most likely to contract infections like those; hospitals being some of the worst offenders.

Makes you just want to go out and lick stuff, doesn’t it?

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

6.91 billion of us is 6 billion too many. It's a shame that bacteria might be the only way to correct that. :(

posted on Sat, 04/23/2011 - 1:43pm
Leigha's picture
Leigha says:


I hear ya, though. I understand that our planet cannot sustain us at our present rate of consumption, but I'm curious to to know how many people the planet COULD sustain. And if there's a way to arrive at that number without getting all creepy and evil about it.

posted on Tue, 04/26/2011 - 11:51am

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