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Nanotech Paint To Kill Bacteria

kdawson posted about 6 years ago | from the any-color-as-long-as-it's-white dept.

Medicine 208

ColGraff points out reporting at Science News about the possibility of killing bacteria with paint. Scientists in the UK have found that high concentrations of titanium oxide nanoparticles in paint can kill bacteria by creating hydroxyl radicals when exposed to ordinary fluorescent light. Titanium dioxide is present in most white paint at concentrations of 30% or so, but not always at nanoparticle scale. The researchers found that an 80% concentration of TiO2 nanoparticles worked well to kill E. Coli bacteria. There is hope that the technique could be used against "superbugs," which are resistant to multiple antibiotics. A researcher not associated with the UK team pointed out the problem with developing products based on this idea: "[A]nything that survives and sticks around grows greater resistance... ultimately [antibiotic paint] will be its own worst enemy and the bacteria could grow to be even stronger."

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A researcher says what? (5, Interesting)

Naughty Bob (1004174) | about 6 years ago | (#25000635)

A researcher not associated with the UK team pointed out the problem with developing products based on this idea: "[A]nything that survives and sticks around grows greater resistance... ultimately [antibiotic paint] will be its own worst enemy and the bacteria could grow to be even stronger."

What a crazy thing to say. It's true, for sure, but has always been the case in the arms race against bacteria. It's what natural selection does...

What could possibly be the researcher's motivation to say such a strange thing?

*cough*She's the founder of a rival nanotech firm*cough*

A coincidence, or fear mongering unscientific FUD? You decide!

Re:A researcher says what? (4, Interesting)

goombah99 (560566) | about 6 years ago | (#25000773)

Actually that was the very forst thing I thought of. Basically the paint is harnessing photon energy to increase the availability of an energetic and highly reactive compound. It also kills bacteria. If some bacteria figures out how to live in the environment --- alkyline loving bacteria exist-- then it will have free food and no competition.

Unlike anti-bacterial soaps, this food source is persistent so the bacteria can more quickly adapt.

Re:A researcher says what? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25000915)

When I came home early from work one day, the air in my house was hot and humid. A distinctive scent of onion musk was in the air and I figured that my wife had just cooked me a meal of mexican food.

How sweet of her!

But, suddenly, I heard strange noises coming from down the hallway, from my bedroom. I heard the faint sound of female sighs and moans mixed in with a vibrant, low groaning much like that of a large dog or perhaps an ape.

I walked down the hall and noticed that the farther I went, the stickier and stinkier the air became. The noises became louder and I was able to hear that it was my wife who was doing the moaning.

A nervous sick feeling tightened my stomach into a huge knot as my brain was unable to comprehend what my senses were telling me.

I entered into a trancelike state, stoically finishing the eternal journey down the lonely, hot hall. Next, I slowly twisted the doorknob and when I opened the door I saw...no...my beloved, pure-as-snow wife was FUCKING A GODDAMN

[if your wife is fucking a large Great Dane, turn to page 254] [if your wife is fucking a large NIGGER, turn to page 254]

Re:A researcher says what? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25001053)

Turn to page 254, please.

Re:A researcher says what? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25001089)

Aren't you the guy that likes to eat shit nuggets? If so then I'm not surprised that your wife is fucking some nigger's great dane.

Re:A researcher says what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25002799)

which page if the skanky whore was doing both and wanted you to video tape for the internet?

Re:A researcher says what? (2, Insightful)

orkysoft (93727) | about 6 years ago | (#25001189)

Also, there are enviroments that no bacteria can evolve to survive in, at least from their current state, either because it is just too hostile to life, or because it is too different from their usual environment that they can't adapt quickly enough, because it requires changing too many genes.

The hostile environment option is probably not so nice for us either, you wouldn't want to heat your kitchen top to 3000 degrees to sterilize it, because that would be unpractical and dangerous. But no organism could survive that, their molecules would just crack. Incidentally, this is sort of what an autoclave [wikipedia.org] does. Make stuff hot enough to kill everything.

The different environment option consists of altering the environment to one that is lethal to the microorganisms, but not in such an extreme way. If the change is fast and drastic enough, they won't have time to evolve resistance to it and will die. Microorganisms are sensitive to changes in e.g. temperature, acidity, and salinity of the environment. We humans have a tough skin that protects us from the environment, we have heating and cooling mechanisms, and regulate our bodies' acidity and salinity. Single-celled organisms do not have these luxuries, and are much more likely to perish if the environment changes drastically.

Re:A researcher says what? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25001263)

So we get bacteria who adapt to live in conditions that are totally unlike the conditions inside a human body.

Was this supposed to be a bad thing?

(Captcha: fitness. I swear, the thing has a mind of its own.)

Re:A researcher says what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25001327)

Why use nanotech, when plain old copper does a great job of killing most microbes?

Re:A researcher says what? (2, Insightful)

Szechuan Vanilla (1363495) | about 6 years ago | (#25003311)

Because copper kills more than just microbes and, like other heavy metals, persists damn near forever as it moves up the food chain in higher and higher concentrations. Which leads me to this question: what else does this *nano*titanium stuff kill as it moves its way through the biosphere? Us?

Re:A researcher says what? (4, Insightful)

tmosley (996283) | about 6 years ago | (#25001463)

Antibacterial soaps target specific molecules on the surface of bacterial membranes, or interfere with some metabolic process. This stuff directly oxidizes the bonds on the surface of the membrane. The only way to develop resistance would be to change the nature of the membrane dramatically.

That would mean (by definition) that they have evolved into a new species. More than likely, they wouldn't be able to live inside the body anymore.

I am working on developing a similar technology in my lab, one that I would argue is better, because it doesn't require light or UV.

Mod parent up (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25002651)

The comment in the article is meaningless. It's like comparing, in the case of plants, developing a resistance to pesticide (i.e. antibiotics) with developing a resistance to buzzsaws (i.e. this paint).

Re:A researcher says what? (3, Informative)

Peaker (72084) | about 6 years ago | (#25003175)

I think evolution finds creative and interesting solutions to problems that we wouldn't think of.

I wouldn't underestimate their ability to "dramatically change their membrane" (if there is no clever way to avoid it), while also being able to live in a human body.

Re:A researcher says what? (4, Informative)

Renraku (518261) | about 6 years ago | (#25001791)

Its all about resources.

Having resistance to something takes up resources. So this bacteria might need x food, whereas its paint-resistant form might need x+3 food. If there's only x+3 food available to the bacteria, that's all it can do. It can't even reproduce because x+3 isn't enough for the cells to divide. Now, what if you slathered the wall with antibacterial soap? The bacteria would need to have soap-resistance at another +2 food, which isn't there.

It would likely die out.

The point isn't making the wall completely sterile, but is just making it a hostile environment for bacteria. The more a bacteria has to invest to protect itself, the less it can invest in its other traits, given a limited amount of food.

Spore? (1)

denzacar (181829) | about 6 years ago | (#25003143)

So this bacteria might need x food, whereas its paint-resistant form might need x+3 food. If there's only x+3 food available to the bacteria, that's all it can do. It can't even reproduce because x+3 isn't enough for the cells to divide. Now, what if you slathered the wall with antibacterial soap? The bacteria would need to have soap-resistance at another +2 food, which isn't there.

And they say that video games are not educational...

Re:A researcher says what? (1)

chemisus (920383) | about 6 years ago | (#25002563)

Actually that was the very forst thing I thought of.

ah, so you are the anonymous coward posting those frosty piss posts!

The real question (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25000885)

Can it kill other forms of scum such as mudslums? If so we should coat every surface in the country with it.

--
"Allah told me to watch a Bruce Willis movie and walk the dog [naked]"
--A Crazy Mudslum [wftv.com]

Re:The real question (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25001015)

Another of McCain's racists.

Re:The real question (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25001625)

Does it kill politicians?

Re:A researcher says what? (2, Insightful)

falconwolf (725481) | about 6 years ago | (#25001125)

What a crazy thing to say. It's true, for sure, but has always been the case in the arms race against bacteria. It's what natural selection does...

It's not crazy at all, nor is it FUD. What is crazy is ignoring antibacterial resistance. As TFA says, almost 100,000 become infected with antibiotic-resistant Staphylococcus aureus in hospitals alone. And that's not a competitor saying that.

Falcon

Re:A researcher says what? (4, Interesting)

mrbooze (49713) | about 6 years ago | (#25001403)

And yet the response is always "just use soap and water".

So why aren't we getting soap-and-water-resistant bacteria? Presumably because such an evolved trait is too "expensive".

A genetics professor of mine once explained that when I asked if bacteria can become resistant to alcohol. (As he was wiping his hands with Purell.) He said, yes, you can induce bacteria to evolve alcohol-resistance in a lab environment, but it's such an expensive adaptation that as soon as the alcohol exposure is reduced, the trait rapidly disappears again.

So the real question would be, is any resistance encouraged by this nano-particle approach an expensive trait or not?

Re:A researcher says what? (2, Interesting)

Amy Grace (1205236) | about 6 years ago | (#25003181)

My understanding was always that soap just allowed water to rinse bacteria away more effectively than water alone, without actually killing the bacteria. Is that the sort of thing that bacteria can adapt to? (Genuinely curious, not being snotty.)

Re:A researcher says what? (1)

noidentity (188756) | about 6 years ago | (#25001631)

She's saying that we shouldn't go around killing the weak ones off where they aren't causing any problems, since the weak ones help make it harder for the stronger ones.

Re:A researcher says what? (1)

Naughty Bob (1004174) | about 6 years ago | (#25001939)

She's saying that we shouldn't go around killing the weak ones off where they aren't causing any problems, since the weak ones help make it harder for the stronger ones.

Eh? Care to provide a link to where she talks about not killing them 'where they aren't causing any problems'?

I understand the principle- How would the same criticism not apply to the next amazing antibiotic to be discovered? FUD, pure and simple.

Nanotech is coming along... (3, Funny)

BitterOldGUy (1330491) | about 6 years ago | (#25000639)

Paint for bacteria and I guess really really small brushes to paint the bacteria. Nanotech at its finest!

Re:Nanotech is coming along... (1)

MillionthMonkey (240664) | about 6 years ago | (#25000815)

It's a good thing I did a search for "paint the bacteria" to avoid the -1 Redundant for the obvious joke... although bacteria look really good with a nice coat of white semi-gloss paint.

Let's hope they keep it controller (3, Insightful)

Zarhan (415465) | about 6 years ago | (#25000653)

Tetrasodium-including soaps have already given a free boot camp for bacterias at home when folks have been buying the stuff thinking it somehow makes places healthier. There's a difference between clean and sterile environments, and clean is really all that you need.

Re:Let's hope they keep it controller (4, Interesting)

Teun (17872) | about 6 years ago | (#25000965)

You are talking about a US problem, the too liberal, really uncontrolled, abuse of industrial strength disinfectants.

The problem here is British, a historical lack of hygiene.

The paint proposed could be a solution but I doubt whether they'll ever be able to recuperate the investments by lack of an export market...

Another issue is that by now it's known nano particles are potentially in the same league as Asbestos fibres and spreading them on large surfaces might introduces other problems.

Re:Let's hope they keep it controller (2, Insightful)

falconwolf (725481) | about 6 years ago | (#25001177)

Tetrasodium-including soaps have already given a free boot camp for bacterias at home when folks have been buying the stuff thinking it somehow makes places healthier. There's a difference between clean and sterile environments, and clean is really all that you need.

Unfortunately as the products in the market that has, and is labeled as having, antibiotic properties shows most people don't think clean is enough. When I clean I use baking soda, a citrus cleaner, and vinegar. I try to stay away from antibiotic products.

Falcon

Re:Let's hope they keep it controller (1)

budgenator (254554) | about 6 years ago | (#25002977)

are you talking about tetra sodium EDTA,

EDTA is also known as H4EDTA, diaminoethanetetraacetic acid, edetic acid, edetate, ethylenedinitrilotetraacetic acid, celon A, gluma cleanser, versene acid, nervanaid B acid, nullapon B acid, ethylene diamine tetracetic acid, tetrine acid, trilon BS, vinkeil 100, warkeelate acid, N,N'-1,2-ethanediylbis(N-(carboxymethyl)glycine)edetic acid, YD-30, Dissolvine Z. EDTA [wikipedia.org]

by any chance? I use it at work and inspite of a scary reading MSDS it's pretty benign stuff.

Superbugs (1)

mactard (1223412) | about 6 years ago | (#25000667)

I am still at odds with killing every bacteria whenever possible. Something like 99 percent of E.Coli strains are completely devoured by anyone with a working immune system. Is it really worth taking the risk to kill that 1 percent that will make us slightly sick? Answer: No.

Re:Superbugs (2, Insightful)

jonbryce (703250) | about 6 years ago | (#25001099)

In a hospital, yes. Because you are more likely to find people who don't have a working immune system, and, already being ill with something else, they are more likely to catch other things.

Re:Superbugs (1)

Kibblet (754565) | about 6 years ago | (#25001671)

I think this would be excellent for hospitals and perhaps commercial kitchens or factories that process food. This is where it would be the most important. I'm ok with home and public places being as they are, but hospitals and other care facilities can be pretty nasty places. My clinical instructor told us to take our shoes off at the front door. After our first day of clinicals? I understand why.

Re:Superbugs (1)

budgenator (254554) | about 6 years ago | (#25003059)

Actually if you didn't have E. Coli in your gut you'd have a vitamin K deficiency and would likely bleed to death soon. There are a lot of "germs" growing in us that with out we'd be either dead or miserable without yet too many do the same thing.

Re:Superbugs (1)

mpeskett (1221084) | about 6 years ago | (#25003095)

I would worry that the 1% of bacteria that aren't killed by cleaning product X are the ones you really need to worry about, and by killing off all the competition you'd give them free rein over the area.

Just what we need, more toxins in environment (0)

Eravnrekaree (467752) | about 6 years ago | (#25000679)

Who knows, what else this can do? Perhaps give you lung cancer or some other toxicity issue. The last thing we need is more pollutants and toxins in our environment. If the nanoparticles got on you they would kill bacteria on or in you probably to, that is bacteria that is necessary and essential to keep you alive. No thanks, id rather have a few bacteria rather than this risky stuff.

Re:Just what we need, more toxins in environment (4, Informative)

yincrash (854885) | about 6 years ago | (#25000707)

titanium dioxide is in pretty much every white thing you can see. sorry dude. you even rub it into your skin for sunblock.

Titanium dioxide accounts for 70% of the total production volume of pigments worldwide. It is widely used to provide whiteness and opacity to products such as paints, plastics, papers, inks, foods, and toothpastes. It is also used in cosmetic and skin care products, and it is present in almost every sunblock, where it helps protect the skin from ultraviolet light.

Re:Just what we need, more toxins in environment (4, Informative)

Eravnrekaree (467752) | about 6 years ago | (#25000927)

Actually i think i heard of evidence that the titanium dioxide particles in sunscreens, especially nano particles are harmful.

http://www.ccohs.ca/headlines/text186.html [ccohs.ca]

"With such widespread use of titanium dioxide, it is important to understand that the IARC conclusions are based on very specific evidence. This evidence showed that high concentrations of pigment-grade (powdered) and ultrafine titanium dioxide dust caused respiratory tract cancer in rats exposed by inhalation and intratracheal instillation*"

http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/health-fitness/nanotechnology-7-07/nanoparticles-in-sunscreens/0707_nano_sunscreen_1.htm [consumerreports.org]

Lab studies indicate that both of those nano-ingredients create free radicals that damage the DNA of cells and possibly cause other harm as well. And even low exposure to nanoparticles of titanium dioxide can damage the lungs of animals if inhaled

http://locokazoo.com/2008/08/05/the-sun-screen-health-disaster/ [locokazoo.com]
http://www.nanowerk.com/spotlight/spotid=6838.php [nanowerk.com]

Re:Just what we need, more toxins in environment (1)

ciaohound (118419) | about 6 years ago | (#25001209)

I wish I had mod points for you. I have heard reporting on the possible hazards of nano particles in sunscreens. They are small enough to pass right through the skin into the blood stream. And then what happens? We don't really know. But if there's a chance they could behave like, say, asbestos, why rush into it? You know, asbestos was used on movie sets to simulate snow before we found out how harmful it was. Just one classic example of assuming cool new stuff is safe.

Re:Just what we need, more toxins in environment (5, Informative)

tim_darklighter (822987) | about 6 years ago | (#25001865)

Reading into some of your links, and being a researcher into titanium dioxide chemistry, I will tell you that the toxicity of titanium dioxide is a) nil for actual ingestion, b) high for your lungs like any small particulates, and c) unknown for sunscreen use.

A) and B) have been known for a long time. C) is still being studied, but the results I have seen so far in peer-reviewed journals (not random health websites) show that nanoparticle sunscreens are not harmful in any real-life circumstance, and looking at your locokazoo link, the zinc oxide sunscreens are the only ones I would even consider putting on my skin. The rest are organic photo-sensitizer molecules that are more harmful than zinc oxide even without light shining on them.

None of your links contain any scientific evidence saying nanoparticle sunscreens are harmful. Yes, titanium dioxide powder is bad for your lungs, but the titanium dioxide or zinc oxide suspended in sunscreen or mixed into paint is not particulate, and therefore has more chance of being eaten than breathed, and it is non-toxic in the digestive system. Again, no evidence has shown that the small concentration of "free" hydroxyl radicals formed when light shines on the titanium dioxide in sunscreen has any effect on exposed human surfaces.

Re:Just what we need, more toxins in environment (1)

Annymouse Cowherd (1037080) | about 6 years ago | (#25002635)

When paint degrades over time it can turn into a powder.

Re:Just what we need, more toxins in environment (1)

budgenator (254554) | about 6 years ago | (#25003165)

Zinc oxide is seriously bad for your lungs as well, that's why welders are wearing respirators under thier welding helmets now. Breathing vaporized zinc oxide is easily good for a trip to the hospital for pneumonia and is often fatal.

Re:Just what we need, more toxins in environment (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25002567)

High concentrations of powdered titanium pigment causes cancer if inhaled?

Wow, shocker. Show me something that does _not_ cause cancer if inhaled in high concentrations in powdered form. Show me the _metal_ that does not cause problems if inhaled in nanoparticle form (solution: ban all metals).

Re:Just what we need, more toxins in environment (1)

LockeOnLogic (723968) | about 6 years ago | (#25001339)

The potential danger is nano TiO2. Nano sized particles can cross biological membranes, that's reason enough to study their health effects before permeating our world with them.

Re:Just what we need, more toxins in environment (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25002037)

Maybe you did not read the article properly... We are talking about titanium dioxide NANOPARTICLES. It's the nanopatricles that cause concerns.

Re:Just what we need, more toxins in environment (1)

bistromath007 (1253428) | about 6 years ago | (#25000747)

TiO2 is commonly used as a food coloring and tattoo pigment. If there were something dangerous about it, we'd know by now.

Re:Just what we need, more toxins in environment (1)

GuldKalle (1065310) | about 6 years ago | (#25000933)

Then why don't we just use food coloring to kill bacteria?

Who needs grey goo? (3, Funny)

Toe, The (545098) | about 6 years ago | (#25000689)

So much for grey goo [wikipedia.org] .

Now we can have eggshell goo, sky blue goo, burnt sienna goo... the mind boggles.

(OP: yes, I understand it's not replicating) (1)

Toe, The (545098) | about 6 years ago | (#25000737)

Before anyone gets in a tizzy... yes, I understand that grey goo is about self-replicating nanotech, and that this paint presumably does not replicate.

It's just a joke, OK? "Sky blue goo" is too funny not to say.

Re:Who needs grey goo? (1)

bistromath007 (1253428) | about 6 years ago | (#25000759)

nanoparticles != nanomachines

Well.. (2, Interesting)

Creepy Crawler (680178) | about 6 years ago | (#25000697)

Lets give people lead in small dosages from age of a baby to 18.

Whoever we dont kill will make the rest of them immune.

Or shall we say that boric acid with cockroaches will make boric acid resistant cockroaches? I think not.

Some things in biology are terminal, regardless of dose

Re:Well.. (2, Interesting)

Darkness404 (1287218) | about 6 years ago | (#25000809)

Lets give people lead in small dosages from age of a baby to 18. Whoever we dont kill will make the rest of them immune.

No, but over a 600 year period, humans will have a greater resistance to lead.

Re:Well.. (1)

Creepy Crawler (680178) | about 6 years ago | (#25000947)

Are you really sure about that?

Why hasnt this been true in the case of boric acid vs cockroaches? We've used boric acid over 100 years, and no resistances as of yet.

There's just certain chemicals that directly affect the chemistry of a biological critter that I dont think we could ever adapt to.

Well, I was going to say that an example would be sodium cyanide... but this [thenakedscientists.com] , specifically

and a few species (e.g. the Giant Bamboo in its shoots) are known to contain cyanides. Interestingly, the Golden Bamboo Lemur is able to consume Giant Bamboo shoots containing many times the lethal dose of cyanide for humans and most other animals, with no ill effects. The reason for its immunity is not yet understood.

proves me wrong, at least on -CN. I would still wonder if anything could survive fluorine gas treatments though..

Still, has evolutionary theory gave a timeline in which mutations of such scope would occur? I mean, one would need a mitochrondrial evolution to stop the denaturing of that protein.

Re:Well.. (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | about 6 years ago | (#25000991)

The thing is, Boric Acid is only mildly toxic to humans. So obviously, (assuming that evolution is true), its possible for a cockroach to eventually gain immunity to it.

Re:Well.. (3, Informative)

Colin Douglas Howell (670559) | about 6 years ago | (#25001307)

Humans didn't evolve from cockroaches or from any arthropod. The origins of the vertebrates are currently quite obscure; something closer to a lancelet [wikipedia.org] seems the most likely candidate.

Also, it's not clear that cockroaches could evolve immunity to boric acid while still remaining cockroaches. In other words, the biological changes required to make them resistant to the stuff could be so severe that we might not recognize the result as a cockroach.

Re:Well.. (2, Informative)

Teun (17872) | about 6 years ago | (#25000985)

The old Romans tried and failed.

Re:Well.. (1)

jonbryce (703250) | about 6 years ago | (#25001243)

It might not. Instead it could wipe out humans completely, to be replaced with another species that is more resistant to lead.

Re:Well.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25002055)

Bluntly put, that's idiotic reasoning.

Some things in biology are terminal, regardless of dose

This is flat wrong. Even your examples don't qualify. The only way this statement of yours makes any sense is if you insist on playing word games about "dose".

The reason we don't see similar changes in humans and cockroaches is due to SCALE!

Bacteria have both a much much higher reproductive rate and a far more mutable genome.

Re:Well.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25002107)

The comparison from humans to bacteria or even from cockroaches to bacteria is not even a comparison. An E. Coli bacterium can reproduce by binary fission once every 20 minutes. On a given surface coated with this paint, you could have so many billions of bacteria present, representing thousands of taxa or different strains. And the sheer accelerated mutational and reproductive ability of some species makes it pretty likely that somewhere, on one of 10 million household walls, a strain will evolve that can tolerate the high concentration of hydroxyl radicals.

Unfortunately... (2)

clang_jangle (975789) | about 6 years ago | (#25000701)

...TiO2 is basically poison [uni-heidelberg.de] .

Oops (1)

clang_jangle (975789) | about 6 years ago | (#25000733)

I should have said "TiO2 nanoparticles are basically poison [uni-heidelberg.de] .

Re:Unfortunately... (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 6 years ago | (#25000751)

...TiO2 is basically poison.

So is pretty much every other drug. They are dose-dependent poisons with useful side effects (paraphrased from the first sentence of the first lecture in my med school pharmacology course).

That said, I'm not sure I want to welcome our new 'brighter-than white' overlords. As a previous poster has mentioned things generally need to be clean, not sterile.

Dirt is good. (1)

bornwaysouth (1138751) | about 6 years ago | (#25002045)

I think the optimal environment is somewhat less than clean. Your immune system needs a mild thrashing now and then to work optimally. There is a two week kick-in needed for it to get working on newish threats. Far better for you to have encounters with likely threats and have a higher set of T-cells (or whatever the recognition set is) poised to kill the little bastards. On the other hand, your immune system can be overwhelmed by a massive continued threats and simply give up on the threat as being 'alien'. Not too dirty.

So I'd agreed with the less-than-sterile advocacy here, but go further. Some but not a lot of crap in your life is good. Basically, hospitals should be sterile, recovery at home (and infants to 3 months) should be clean, and the rest of us should only avoid serious threats.

As for the earlier posts that 'we will evolve to counter the threat'. Basically, that is true. But your metabolism should be regarded as an economy with winners and losers. Resources get switched to where they are needed. If people evolve lead resistance, it may be at the cost of less effective metal-centered enzymes. The other downside to evolution is that it is selective. It does not make for better. It simply weeds. It may well become hostile to techies. Lead (or TiO2 or whatever the threat is) resilience may require a smaller brain and blood-brain barrier that delivers less oxygen, but is a better filter. Or simply people who start breeding at age 14, and have lots of kids.

Evolution and the immune system pick winners. Clean-living good guys come last.

Re:Unfortunately... (1)

Daimanta (1140543) | about 6 years ago | (#25000771)

DISCLAIMER:It is advised that you don't lick the paint.

That should solve the issues ;)

Re:Unfortunately... (1)

Christopher_Olah (1317943) | about 6 years ago | (#25000865)

...TiO2 is basically poison [uni-heidelberg.de] .

Titanium dioxide is commonly in sunscreen and paints. A minority (including someone I know) have a allergic reaction to topical application.

As long as the paint doesn't secrete titanium dioxide into the air, the only problem I see is that allergic people have to where gloves when they paint.

Titanium dioxide toxicity (1)

Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) | about 6 years ago | (#25000879)

How do they break DNA if they're outside the cell nucleus?

Does the titanium dioxide in your sunscreen get taken up by skin cells? Does it even make it past the epidermis? (Not rhetorical questions, asking because I don't know).

Getting really weird, does this mean that if you're stuck without a first aid kit at the beach that you could substitute sunscreen for antibiotic ointment?

UV light triggered mechanism -- good and bad (4, Informative)

compumike (454538) | about 6 years ago | (#25000719)

I found an article that has much more information about the actual mechanism of the TiO2 anti-bacterial effect [nrel.gov] .

The nice thing is that the titanium acts as a catalyst, so ideally it isn't consumed in the reaction.

The bad thing is that this requires UV light (below 385nm), which is really only present from "ordinary fluorescent lights" because they have bad phosphor coatings. All fluorescent lights really generate tons of UV, which is downconverted to visible via that white phosphor coating on the glass. But some UV escapes, and that's the stuff that triggers this anti-bacterial reaction. So good for anti-bacterial, but bad for skin cancer.

In any case, maybe this is the kind of thing where some dedicated UV lights could turn on when no people were in a given room, and that would make for the best of both worlds?

--
Hey code monkey... learn electronics! Powerful microcontroller kits for the digital generation. [nerdkits.com]

Re:UV light triggered mechanism -- good and bad (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | about 6 years ago | (#25000777)

http://energystar.custhelp.com/cgi-bin/energystar.cfg/php/enduser/std_adp.php?p_faqid=3867&p_created=1196783272 [custhelp.com]

Do Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs (CFLs) produce a hazardous amount of UV light?

Regular fluorescent light bulbs used in your home and office, including CFLs, do not produce a hazardous amount of ultraviolet light (UV). Ultraviolet light rays are the light wavelengths that can cause sunburn and skin damage. Most light sources, including fluorescent bulbs, emit a small amount of UV light, but the UV light produced by fluorescent light bulbs is far less than the amount produced by natural daylight. The amount of UV given off by regular fluorescent light bulbs used in your home and office are not hazardous. A recent report from E Source indicates a level of UV radiation from CFLs at a range of 50-140 microwatts/lumen. In comparison, this report also sites that some incandescent products have been found to have UV levels exceeding 100 microwatts/ lumen.

Re:UV light triggered mechanism -- good and bad (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25001451)

Flourescent lamps are the reason why I'm not pasty white.

Old news (3, Interesting)

Jade E. 2 (313290) | about 6 years ago | (#25000753)

So you can use this new nano-titanium paint with a UV light and kill bacteria within 96 hours... or you can use the nano-silver paint [e-spaces.com] to kill them with no light needed in 2 hours. And it's been around for around 4 years.

Re:Old news (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25003373)

Titanium dioxide is a lot cheaper than any silver compound, but yes, I remember hearing about an identical paint on Slashdot years ago. Still, there seems to be no research into resistance, dioxin generation and other important issues.

Operating Theatres (1)

WeirdJohn (1170585) | about 6 years ago | (#25000797)

I can see the point in being cautious about where this is used, but surely this would be very handy in operating theatres and other places where a sterile environment is important?

Re:Operating Theatres (1)

nietsch (112711) | about 6 years ago | (#25002661)

Yes because they store all that equipment right on the wall or ceiling, and if the wall will clean it, that means that's a lot of savings for/from the autoclave. Unless it is stuff like doorhandles, there is little reason to make everything self-'disinfecting'.

Needs more research (4, Insightful)

Rui del-Negro (531098) | about 6 years ago | (#25000833)

A researcher [...] pointed out the problem [...]: "[A]nything that survives and sticks around grows greater resistance"

If those were his words, then I guess this "researcher" needs to do a bit more research, perhaps starting with a book written by a certain "Charles Darwin".

If the bacteria "stick around" it's because they are already resistant. Meaning they get to multiply, not to "grow greater resistance" (if they survived, their resistance is as "great" as it needs to be).

All that antibiotics do (in the long run) is change the relative populations of different kinds of bacteria (eliminating the ones that aren't resistant, leaving more room and resources for the resistant ones to grow). They don't actively make bacteria "get stronger", as the quote suggests. It's not as if the bacteria send a sample of the antibiotic to their underground lab where bacterial boffins come up with an antidote. They don't even have proper immune systems.

It's annoying when even "scientists" attribute some sort of "guiding intelligence" to the process of natural selection (or to individual bacteria, for that matter).

P.S. - And yes, I'm aware of plasmids, but bacteria can't suddenly rush out to buy some when they need them [ * ], so it's still a matter of selection, not "self-improvement".

[ * ] Unless they're playing Bioshock.

Welcome! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25000861)

I for one welcome our heavily toxic overlords!

In Soviet Russia... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25000929)

bacteria kill YOU with paint!

Ultimately human death is the solution (1)

davinc (575029) | about 6 years ago | (#25000903)

We left the evolutionary race with the invention of antibiotics... meanwhile bacteria has been evolving steadily. Until man can create a faster and more reactive system than the human immune system to combat infections, the bacteria will eventually win. Human death is a natural part of that. If my immune system can't handle a strep infection, death is what keeps me from sharing my genetics with future generations.

Trying to stay ahead of microorganisms is a war that will get increasingly expensive and difficult for us, and will cost infectious strains nothing to wage forever. And the second we slip or fall behind, it's going to be disastrous for any of us who now share unfit genes.

Interesting fact... (1)

RabidMoose (746680) | about 6 years ago | (#25000961)

Titanium Dioxide can also be found in McDonalds (and others) honey mustard. Just putting that out there...

Re:Interesting fact... (2, Funny)

canajin56 (660655) | about 6 years ago | (#25001039)

And the meat is full of antibiotics! McDonalds PREVENTS food poisoning? Film at 11.

bacteria kill paint exists already (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25001029)

Upon taking on a 40 year old mobile home project..metal siding made a beeline to the wooden eves..everything possibly human and disgusting of course. I bought primer with fungicide in it...came only in white paint. Its been 5 years and its fallin off, but hey, I bet it did its job..

  metal siding and wooden roofs is as dumb as vinyl on the house. You disgusting pigs. I hope they do come out with something. houses and reality stopped when planks did....modern plagues like a honda automibile will prevail as we stunt our way into midget clones and limiting babies produced by a bizarre itch. If paint needs anit-bacterial,I needf another locale... I would assume kitchen working could use it, and even then, clean the damn thing...like smart kitchen workers would. this has been mentioned. there are other things for nanotech to bring about. Bull crap we got enough of...

Stronger? Or just different? (3, Interesting)

localman (111171) | about 6 years ago | (#25001047)

I realize that we face a pretty tough battle with certain "superbugs", but wouldn't one expect that as these bacteria adapt immunity to current antibiotics that they'll open up a weakness to something else? I suppose it's _possible_ that they're evolving to be stronger in a general sense, but usually I think of evolution as becoming more fit for one's environment -- which usually makes one less fit for another environment. Engineering is all about tradeoffs -- whether via intelligent design (our designs) or evolution (natures "design"). We created a new environment for them by introducing antibiotics, which they've adapted to. So we'll change the environment again.

I understand this is not simple or straightforward, but I think the idea of "superbugs" is a bit of misnomer -- they're only super until we find the next weakness, and I imagine they'll always be one, even if it takes us a while to find it.

Cheers.

Easy for YOU to say... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25001623)

A highly antibiotic resistant strain of TB beat me up and took my juice money :(

Re:Stronger? Or just different? (2, Interesting)

wfstanle (1188751) | about 6 years ago | (#25002231)

Who can say for sure what will happen? This brings to mind what happened to a strain of E. Coli. They were experimenting on a streptomycin resistant strain and they noticed something strange. Some colonies actually needed streptomycin to live! Evolution can do some really strange and unpredictable things.

Scientists are now looking for much bigger things (1)

Korbeau (913903) | about 6 years ago | (#25001137)

to kill in pursuit of their experiment, including rats, pigs, sheeps, and possibly even human beings one day.

As one of the lead researcher said, "once we are able to manufacture bigger brushes, there's no way telling the limits of this technology!"

it doesn't work that way (1, Insightful)

speedtux (1307149) | about 6 years ago | (#25001153)

A researcher not associated with the UK team pointed out the problem with developing products based on this idea: "[A]nything that survives and sticks around grows greater resistance... ultimately [antibiotic paint] will be its own worst enemy and the bacteria could grow to be even stronger."

The "researcher" is full of shit. Evolution is about tradeoffs, not about "getting stronger"; after billions of years of evolution, bacteria are about as strong as they are going to get.

Resistance to TiO2 paints would have to come at a price for bacteria: they need to shed some other resistance, grow more slowly, become more susceptible to phages, etc.

Re:it doesn't work that way (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25001827)

...after billions of years of evolution, bacteria are about as strong as they are going to get. ...what an incredibly stupid thing to say.

could you please illuminate us to how you came to such a stupid moronic conclusion?

Re:it doesn't work that way (1)

Peaker (72084) | about 6 years ago | (#25003257)

He's claiming that bacteria are already at, or very near, their local peak. If they're not at the local peak, they're at a peak that is probably near it.

They had billions of years to search for that peak, and so they have probably found it. If they haven't found it, then they probably will not find it, and its not their "local peak" at all.

Re:it doesn't work that way (1)

Veramocor (262800) | about 6 years ago | (#25002201)

Well the hydroxl radical, is one of the top oxidants. Greater than peroxide, ozone, and Chlorine. Which means that it wants to react with almost anything. http://www.lenntech.com/water-disinfection/disinfectants-hydrogen-peroxide.htm [lenntech.com] see table in the middle.

It would almost be like humans developing resistance to getting shot in the head with a .45 gun. I don't see it happening.

That said Radiodurans extremophiles are able to repair themselves at amazing rate from ionizing radiation induced: From wiki: While a dose of 10 Gy of ionizing radiation is sufficient to kill a human, and a dose of 60 Gy is sufficient to kill all cells in a culture of E. coli, D. radiodurans is capable of withstanding an instantaneous dose of up to 5,000 Gy with no loss of viability, and an instantaneous dose of up to 15,000 Gy with 37% viability. A dose of 5,000 Gy is estimated to introduce several hundred complete breaks into the organism's DNA.

Re:it doesn't work that way (1)

wfstanle (1188751) | about 6 years ago | (#25002303)

How do you know that they have to shed other resistances? Do you know of any studies that support your claim? I doubt that you can find any credible studies that say so because scientists will always hedge their bets. One can't predict that this will actually be the result.

What could possibly go... ? (1)

Torodung (31985) | about 6 years ago | (#25001235)

"ultimately [antibiotic paint] will be its own worst enemy and the bacteria could grow to be even stronger."

Oh wait. Already in the summary. No need to tag it. No need to even read TFA.

Well done, sir. I'm impressed. ;^)

--
Toro

Not very clever (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25001293)

Remember DDT?

block cell phones (1)

AlexCGilliland (1287054) | about 6 years ago | (#25001311)

TFA mentions experimental nano paint to block cell phone signals...how could that work? would it also block wifi?

Does nanotech mean TiO2? (1)

TD-Linux (1295697) | about 6 years ago | (#25001445)

Is it just me, or has ever recent nanotech 'discovery' been just another use of titanium dioxide? Recent discoveries involving TiO2 include self-cleaning glass and T-shirts, 'nanotech' cat litter, and even the memristor.

On a related note, using this in paint is nothing new - according to Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] , about 70% of pigments already contain TiO2.

Just use bleach (2, Interesting)

MoeDumb (1108389) | about 6 years ago | (#25001593)

No bacteria will ever be able to adapt to BLEACH. Bleach remains the tried and true no-escape bacteria killer.

Antiseptic Antibiotic (3, Interesting)

grogo (861262) | about 6 years ago | (#25001723)

Fears about developing resistance are probably misplaced: no bacterium is resistant to chlorine, and we don't worry about it happening. The environment in the paint described in the article would be similar.

The reason antibiotic resistance develops is because antibiotics are highly targeted to a certain bacterial mechanism, usually one enzyme or protein, or a complex of enzymes working together. For obvious reasons, these have to be enzymatic mechanisms and proteins unique to bacteria, and not found in humans, primates, mammals, etc.

On the other hand, chlorine kills everything, regardless of details of underlying biology. Presumably, this paint would do the same, unless they evolve some complex way of dealing with titanium dioxide, which is highly unlikely IMHO.

Food Industry (1)

Yo-Yo-boy-wonder (1180359) | about 6 years ago | (#25001767)

They already do something similar to this in the food industry. There's a paint with Silver Oxides (I think, it's a silver compound anyway) They can either paint it on, or mix it with an epoxy for floor coatings. It's supposed to kill any bacteria on it.

Weird article, really. (1)

Ihlosi (895663) | about 6 years ago | (#25001953)

It's been known for ages that titanium dioxide is a photooxidizer.

Also, mentioning superbugs in this context doesn't make sense. Killing superbugs _outside the human body_ is no problem at all, and they will not be able to develop any kind of resistance against most forms of disinfection (that includes using oxidizers). Saying that they might become resistant to something that oxidizes the shit out of them is like saying they might become resistant to being heated to 200C - there's a few physical and chemical processes that no life form on Earth tolerates very well.

Re:Weird article, really. (1)

Veramocor (262800) | about 6 years ago | (#25002297)

I agree it is highly unlikely that a specific bacteria would develop resistance over the short term, and if it ever did it probably couldn't even be considered the same bacteria species anymore.

But lets take two bacterias:

1. Radiodurans can resist extreme amounts of ionizing radiation which would act in the cell in a similar way oxidants would

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deinococcus_radiodurans [wikipedia.org]

2. As for temperature there are bacteria that can live at 130 degrees C (a lot less than your 200 degrees C.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyperthermophile [wikipedia.org]

Although beyond those temperatures DNA breaks apart.

Bacteria are like neighbors (1)

CuteSteveJobs (1343851) | about 6 years ago | (#25002041)

Bacteria are like neighbors. If you kill off the nice quiet ones, don't complain when bad ones take their place (and ignore the eviction notice).

welcome (1)

Heembo (916647) | about 6 years ago | (#25002729)

I for one welcome our new bacteria killing, aesthetically pleasing, nano-overlords.

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