Killer silk: Making silk fibers that kill anthrax and other microbes in minutes
A simple, inexpensive dip-and-dry treatment can convert ordinary silk into a fabric that kills disease-causing bacteria -- even the armor-coated spores of microbes like anthrax -- in minutes, scientists are reporting in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces. They describe a range of potential uses for this new killer silk, including make-shift curtains and other protective coatings that protect homes and other buildings in the event of a terrorist attack with anthrax. Rajesh R. Naik and colleagues explain that in adverse conditions, bacteria of the Bacillus species, which includes anthrax, become dormant spores, enclosing themselves in a tough coating. These spores can survive heat, radiation, antibiotics and harsh environmental conditions, and some have sprung back to life after 250 million years. Certain chemicals -- most popular among which are oxidizing agents, including some chlorine compounds -- can destroy bacterial spores, and they have been applied to fabrics like cotton, polyester, nylon and Kevlar. These treated fabrics are effective against many bacteria, but less so against spores. The researchers tried a similar coating on silk to see if it could perform better against these hardy microbes.
They developed a chlorinated form of silk, which involves soaking silk in a solution that includes a substance similar to household bleach and letting it dry. Silk treated for just an hour killed essentially all of the E. coli bacteria tested on it within 10 minutes and did similarly well against spores of a close anthrax relative used as a stand-in. "Given the potent bactericidal and sporicidal activity of the chlorinated silk fabrics prepared in this study, silk-Cl materials may find use in a variety of applications," the authors say. Other applications, they add, include purifying water in humanitarian relief efforts and in filters or to mitigate the effects of toxic substances.
The authors acknowledge funding from the Defense Threat Reduction Agency and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research.
Source: American Chemical Society
- Killer silk: Making silk fibers that kill anthrax and other microbes in minutesfrom PhysorgWed, 14 Mar 2012, 16:30:40 EDT
- Silk fibers that kill anthrax and other microbes in minutesfrom Science BlogWed, 14 Mar 2012, 15:30:58 EDT
- Killer silk: Making silk fibers that kill anthrax and other microbes in minutesfrom Science DailyWed, 14 Mar 2012, 15:30:28 EDT
Latest Science NewsletterGet the latest and most popular science news articles of the week in your Inbox! It's free!
Check out our next project, Biology.Net
From other science news sites
Popular science news articles
- Severe flooding hits central Texas, Oklahoma
- Study of over 250,000 patients suggests that, before an operation, low blood pressure rather than high is a risk factor for death
- Little-known quake, tsunami hazards lurk offshore of Southern California
- ASCO: Component in green tea may help reduce prostate cancer in men at high risk
- Future vaccine may help lower blood pressure long-term
- New survey shows 36-percent increase in pediatric patients treated with proton therapy
- Nearly indestructible virus yields tool to treat diseases
- Cognitive impairment predicts worse outcome in heart failure
- Biodiversity: 11 new species come to light in Madagascar
- Mosquito sex-determining gene could help fight dengue fever