Weird Medicine

Scientists Turn To Kitchen Sponge For Antibiotic Resistance Solution

Sponges may not only help you clean in the kitchen but also wipe out harmful bacteria from the body in the future. Researchers discovered that some viruses commonly found on the product could help fight the growing antibiotic resistance problem. 

A new study, presented at the recent ASM Microbe meeting of the American Society for Microbiology, highlighted the benefits of bacteriophages, also known as phages, which commonly appear in areas where bacteria reside. 

Kitchen sponge is one of the best materials to look for phages since people use it in so many ways when cleaning and it is frequently exposed to a large microbiome of bacteria. Researchers from the New York Institute of Technology (NYIT) found that phages tend to attack the isolated bacteria from used sponges, reported Monday

"Our study illustrates the value in searching any microbial environment that could harbor potentially useful phages," Brianna Weiss, a life sciences student at New York Institute of Technology, said. "This led us to wonder if the bacteria strains were coincidentally the same, even though they came from two different sponges."

To see if the virus works the same way on humans, the researchers swapped two phages to see if they would cross-infect bacteria on a person. Surprisingly, the phages killed the new host’s bacteria.

But what really surprised the researchers was that the virus targeted the bacteria that belong to the Enterobacteriaceae family. This group commonly appears in feces and has been linked to spread of infections in hospitals. 

Weiss said they plan to conduct another study to see how phages could protect the body against other types of bacteria. 

"Continuing our work, we hope to isolate and characterize more phages that can infect bacteria from a variety of microbial ecosystems, where some of these phages might be used to treat antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections," the researcher said. 

Antibiotic Resistance: The Numbers

It has been a growing health issue across the world. The spread of antibiotic resistance has been linked to increase in the number of people traveling internationally and the transport of animals and goods, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

In the U.S., estimates show that at least two million people develop antibiotic resistance every year. Up to 23,000 patients die annually because of the disease. 

Sponge The kitchen sponge contains numerous bacteria and germs. Pixabay