Physorg - Scientists from the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine have synthesized a single, multifunctional polymer material that can decontaminate both biological and chemical toxins. They described the findings recently in Biomaterials
They devised a polyurethane fiber mesh containing enzymes that lead to the production of bromine or iodine, which kill bacteria, as well as chemicals that generate compounds that detoxify organophosphate nerve agents.
"This mesh could be developed into sponges, coatings or liquid sprays, and it could be used internally or as a wound dressing that is capable of killing bacteria, viruses and spores," said lead investigator Gabi Amitai, Ph.D., of the McGowan Institute and the Israel Institute for Biological Research. "The antibacterial and antitoxin activities do not interfere with each other, and actually can work synergistically."
In their experiments, the material fended off Staph aureus and E. coli, which represent different classes of bacteria. After 24 hours, it restored 70 percent of the activity of acetylcholinesterase, an enzyme that is inhibited by nerve agents leading to fatal dysfunction of an essential neurotransmitter.