Plasmas affect cell envelope, DNA and proteins
Depending on their specific composition, plasmas may
contain different components, for example ions, radicals or light in the
ultraviolet spectrum, so-called UV photons. Until now, scientists have
not understood which components of the complex mixture contribute to
which extent to the antibacterial effect. Julia Bandow’s team has
analysed the effect of UV photons and reactive particles, namely
radicals and ozone, on both the cellular level and on the level of
single biomolecules, namely DNA and proteins. On the cellular level, the
reactive particles alone were most effective: they destroyed the cell
envelope. On the molecular level, both plasma components were effective.
Both UV radiation and reactive particles damaged the DNA; in addition,
the reactive particles inactivated proteins.
No effective antibiotics in ten years’ time?
Atmospheric-pressure plasmas are already being used as
surgical tools, for example in nasal and intestinal polyp extraction.
Their properties as disinfectants may also be of interest with regard to
medical applications. “In ten years, bacteria might have developed
resistance against all antibiotics that are available to us today,” says
Julia Bandow. Without antibiotics, surgery would become impossible due
to high infection rates.
J.-W. Lackmann, S. Schneider, E. Edengeiser, F. Jarzina,
S. Brinckmann, E. Steinborn, M. Havenith, J. Benedikt, J.E. Bandow
(2013): Photons and particles emitted from cold atmospheric-pressure
plasma inactivate bacteria and biomolecules independently and
synergistically, Journal of the Royal Society Interface, doi:
Source: Ruhr University Bochum