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Clay proves to be antimicrobial agent.

What makes some clays such powerful antimicrobial agents capable of killing Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) and other virulent bacteria? It is a question that University at Buffalo (N.Y.) researchers have been studying for several years. In particular, they have been observing the weak interactions that are responsible for the stickiness of clay particles.

"We look at the attraction or repulsion between natural and modified clays and bacteria," explains Rossman Giese, professor of geology. Unlike antibiotics, which essentially are a chemical weapon against bacteria, antimicrobial clays kill through purely physical means.

"The bacterium has to come into physical contact with the clay in order for something to happen," Giese explains. "The antimicrobial agents in the clay poke a hole in the cell wall of the bacterium, causing the bacterium to leak to death. The nice thing about that is that there is no way that the bacterium can evolve to avoid it, so resistance to the antimicrobial clay is unlikely to become a problem."

The clay developed by researchers has been very effective in lab testing. Its first application will be to treat HEPA filters in hospitals.
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Publication:USA Today (Magazine)
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 1, 2007
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