For new antibacterials, rub a little dirt in it

For new antibacterials, rub a little dirt in it

October 29, 2013

October 29, 2013

Clay may hold the secret to beautiful skin, and now, microbiologists at ASU's Biodesign Institute 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 microbiologist Shelley Haydel.

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.

Courtesy of Inside Science TV, produced by the American Institute of Physics


Written by: Joe Caspermeyer