We’ve talked before about the rise of superbugs, strains of bacteria that are beginning to grow resistant to antibiotics. This includes strains of MRSA. We also touched upon anti-microbial scrubs that can counter nasty bacteria like MRSA.

Well in more good news, it turns out that a special type of synthetic sugar might also be able to join in the fight against superbugs. That’s right, sugar.

You see, sugar polymers are actually the building blocks of these bacterias cell walls.

Check out this excerpt of a Science Daily article:

Professor Cooper, Director of the IMB Centre for Superbug Solutions, said bacteria are less likely to become resistant to an antibiotic based on a modified version of their own sugar.

“Bacteria have cell walls similar to the walls of a brick house, except instead of mortar the walls are held together by sugar polymers,” Professor Cooper said.

“But if you add one of our modified sugar molecules, they stop the linking process, destroying the cell wall and killing the bacteria.”

“The cell wall has been a target for antibiotics such as penicillin and vancomycin before, but the difference here is that we are stopping a centrally important part of the cell wall linking process.”

So the idea is that the sugars will pose as friendly to the bacteria, become absorbed by them, and kill them from the inside.

In that same article Dr Johannes Zuegg, from UQ’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience (IMB), claimed that their team was working on finding sugar molecules that are both non-toxic to human cells and also kill superbug bacteria.

As an added bonus to this discovery, Dr. Zuegg goes on to say that while most antibiotic drugs are flat and planar shaped, these sugar molecules are three dimensional.

“This means we can build on the sugar core in a variety of ways to make thousands of different combinations in three dimensional space.”

The hope is also that if bacteria were to adjust to a specific sugar molecule and defend against it, scientists could find thousands of variations and keep on attacking bacteria with modified versions.

At the very least, this is a promising step in the right direction in the fight against superbugs like MRSA.