Painting a bull’s eye on bacteria

Author: John Monczunski

Notre Dame Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry Bradley Smith and his colleagues recently found what may be a new way to target drugs and image sites of bacterial infection. While examining a series of low molecular weight zinc (II) complexes, the Notre Dame researcher found that the zinc compound could differentiate between mammalian cells and such disease-causing bacteria as E. coli and Staphylococcus aureus. Using fluorescence microscopy, Smith and his colleagues produced images of the bacteria bound by the zinc complexes.

Smith says that so-called “zinc (II) coordination complexes” are easily manipulated and modified, and can be attached to magnetic nanoparticles and might even be used to remove bacteria from blood.”

The Notre Dame researcher told the journal Chemical Biology that his team is working to improve the stability of the zinc (II) complexes in blood to facilitate their use in living organisms.