Is this 25-year-old PhD student close to solving the antibiotic resistance puzzle?

A 25-year-old PhD candidate from Australia may have unlocked the answer to treating superbugs while avoiding antibiotic resistance issues, according to ScienceAlert. Shu Lam has developed a polymer that can destroy six unique superbug strains without antibiotics.

The research, published in Nature Microbiology, has only been tested on mice thus far, but it offers a new pathway to fighting the aforementioned hard-to-treat infections. The polymers, called structurally nanoengineered antimicrobial peptide polymers or SNAPPs, attack the superbug bacteria's cell membrane. SNAPPs don't affect healthy cells as they are too large to enter them.

According to the CDC, around 2 million people become infected with bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics and at least 23,000 people die each year as a result of these infections. In September, all 193 United Nation member states agreed in a declaration to address the growing threat of antibiotic resistance — a historic occasion as it was only the fourth time the U.N. General Assembly had discussed a health issue.

While it's still too early to be sure that the polymers would strike a significant blow to the antibiotic resistance problem, there is a cause for hope, according to the report.

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