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Clay Can Kill Some Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria

Clay Can Kill Some Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria

A new approach to developing effective antibacterial agents.

Clay Can Kill Some Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria

Tuesday, October 15, 2013 - 19:15

Karin Heineman, ISTV Executive Producer

(Inside Science TV) -- Clay may hold the secret to beautiful skin, and now, microbiologists at Arizona State University say it may have another secret: an ability to treat skin infections.

"It can be used for wound healing or to potentially fight infections that occur on the surface of the skin,” said Shelley Haydel, microbiologist at Arizona State University.

Researchers have found that some clay can kill powerful bacteria like e-coli and even Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, which can be resistant to many antibiotics.

Haydel explained that clay “could potentially be a complementary topical application to fight MRSA.”

Scientists put the clay in water and stir it for about twenty-four hours. This process separates bacteria-killing metals from the clay. Even though what's left looks like dirty water, it can fight some kinds of bacteria.

Haydel said, “We’re basically creating or making clays that are antibacterial.”

Scientists have learned that certain elements in the clay such as iron, copper, cobalt and zinc help make the clay antibacterial.

“We’re certainly not advocating for getting rid of antibiotics….we’re looking for something that would complement our traditional antibiotics strategies to fight infectious diseases,” Haydel said. 

Some clay can be toxic in large amounts and scientists warn against eating clay to cure disease. But one day, lab-made clays may be just what the doctor ordered.


Get Inside The Science:

Attacking MRSA with Metals from Antibacterial Clays

Arizona State University – Biodesign Institute

Shelley Haydel, Arizona State University

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Karin Heineman

Karin Heineman is the executive producer of Inside Science TV.