Superbugs could be defeated by tricking bacteria with metal
Tricking bacteria to consume a "Trojan horse" metal that looks like food but disrupts their ability to reproduce may be a way to defeat superbugs, say scientists.
Early studies in the US have shown that a single dose of the gallium molecule cured mice of lethal lung infections.
In human patients with cystic fibrosis, the new treatment was shown to improve lung function.
Gallium is a metal similar to iron, a critical nutrient for bacteria - but instead of nourishing the bugs, it harms them.
Professor Bradley Britigan, a researcher from the University of Nebraska, said: "Gallium disrupts machinery that bacteria use to make new DNA, and without this the bacteria can't multiply.
"This and other essential processes require iron, and gallium is a monkey wrench that shuts the system down."
The study was reported in the journal 'Science Translational Medicine'.