Copper was first used to sterilize wounds between 2600 and 2200 BC, and today, its power to kill bacteria still works.
Researchers are hoping to one day use copper to create new antibiotics for a strain of pneumonia.
Is copper the key to supercharge new antibiotics to kill bacteria?
Professor Michael Johnson says it could be.
Genie Street has had pneumonia three times. It’s left her with asthma and permanent lung damage.
Genie Street says, ” I was just devastated. I was just so upset, just, I don’t know, it just takes all the hope from you. And it’s a horrible disease. ”
Her doctors told her only one antibiotic will work for her. So she’s closely watching research on how copper may help develop new ones.
Michael D. L. Johnson, Ph.D., University of Arizona says, ” With a bacteria that still kills one point five million people per year, with 50 percent of those being under the age of five, we’re trying to find new treatments, and we’re doing that through copper. ”
Streptococcus Pneumoniae causes pneumonia, ear infections, meningitis, and pink eye.
Copper is toxic to the bacteria. Right now, Doctor Johnson is focusing on disrupting the Cop-y Protein, which helps bacteria get rid of copper.
” All of a sudden, the bacteria can’t cause disruption anymore. Oh, yeah, we have a potential therapeutic target, ” continues Dr. Johnson.
He has a compound with copper in vitro studies now that’s killed 99.9% of the bacteria in a couple of hours. He’s encouraged by that, and so is Genie.
” The bad bugs are winning, and antibiotics are losing, so if there would be something as simple and as easy as copper, it sounds marvelous to me,” continues Street.
Especially with antibiotic resistance rising, and few new drug options.
Johnson says his team is making faster progress now, on figuring out the basic science of how copper works.