They are celled NanoZymes, artificial enzymes which could provide important help in the battle against antibiotic resistant infections. Researchers from several Australian universities collaborated in developing these remarkable enzymes and published their results in the scientific journal Applied Nano Materials.

The NanoZymes, created with nanomaterials of copper oxide which are a thousand times smaller than a human hair, are activated by light contact. Once the reaction has been triggered, extremely high concentrations of highly reactive oxygen is produced, as OH radicals, which are able to kill bacteria by creating holes in their cellular membranes with strong light flashes. In this way the NanoZymes enzymes provide an excellent antibacterial force without resorting to drugs or other chemical molecules.

The Australian researchers introduced the artificial enzymes to a solution similar to the fluid produced by a wound, which can be sprayed on several different surface types. Other types of NanoZymes can be directly produced as special powders to be mixed with paints, ceramics and other coatings. This allows areas at high risk of infection, like public toilets and hospital walls, to be kept bacteria-free, in particular of resistant strains of E. coli or Golden Staph.

In the future, NanoZymes could be produced which can be activated by sunlight alone, and therefore active for 12 hours a day without the need of other artificial light sources.