Silvery Space Shield scientists have found a way to fight superbugs in Space
Researchers have developed an anti-microbial coating which has decreased the growth of bacteria on contamination prone surfaces in the ISS and may help protect astronauts beyond the Moon and Mars from the antibiotic-resistant superbugs. Microgravity, cosmic radiation, psychological stress and unearthly conditions at the International Space Station lead to diminished immunity system and strengthening of the bacteria that may put the crew at risk. From the study, published in Frontiers in Microbiology journal, the team tested a brand new anti-inflammatory coating named AGXX, made from valuable metals, on the toilet door.
It proved to be extremely effective. After 6 months, no bacteria were recovered from AGXX coated surfaces. Even at 12-19 months, only 12 bacteria were recovered, a reduction of 80 percent compared with bare steel. A normal silver coating tested for comparison had only a slight anti-inflammatory effect, reducing the number of bacteria by 30 percent against steel. AGXX contains silver and ruthenium, conditioned by a vitamin derivative, also it kills all sorts of bacteria along with certain fungi, yeasts, and viruses,” stated Prof. Elizabeth Grohman from the Beuth University of Applied Sciences at Berlin, Germany. The effects are very comparable to bleach, except the coating itself regenerating and never gets consumed, Grohmann said.
Grohmann noted that spaceflight can turn harmless bacteria into potential pathogens such as stress hormones depart astronauts susceptible to infection. Therefore, the bacteria they take become more challenging, developing thick protective coatings and immunity to antibiotics, more vigorous, multiplying and metabolizing faster. To make things worse, the genes accountable for these new traits could be easily shared between different species of bacteria. Immunosuppression, bacteria virulence and infection risk increase with duration of spaceflight. We must continue to develop new methods to combat bacterial infections when we’re to try longer missions on Mars and beyond, Grohmann noted.