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Salts to tackle hospital bacteria such as MRSA

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Scientists at Queen’s University Belfast have developed special salts which could be used to fight deadly hospital bacteria such as MRSA.

The breakthrough by eight researchers from the Queen’s University Ionic Liquid Laboratories (Quill) centre, found the salts could be used to kill or prevent the growth of colonies of dangerous germs that are resistant to antibiotics.

The team found that the ionic liquids (salts) break down biofilms, which exist in bacterial colonies and protect them from antiseptics, disinfectants, and antibiotics.

Martyn Earle, assistant director at Quill, said: ‘We have shown that, when pitted against the ionic liquids (salts) we developed and tested, biofilms offer little or no protection to MRSA, or to seven other infectious micro-organisms.’

These hazardous microbial biofilms not only grow in hospitals - where they attack weak patients - they are also found inside water pipes and cause blockages in industrial processes.

Mr Earle and his team hopes this new development can be used to ‘design ionic liquids with the lowest possible toxicity to humans while wiping out colonies of bacteria that cause hospital-acquired infections’.

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