Science

Scientists create anthrax-unfriendly "killer silk"

Scientists create anthrax-unfr...
Silk treated with chlorine has been shown to kill anthrax-like bacteria within minutes of contact (Photo via Shutterstock)
Silk treated with chlorine has been shown to kill anthrax-like bacteria within minutes of contact (Photo via Shutterstock)
View 1 Image
Silk treated with chlorine has been shown to kill anthrax-like bacteria within minutes of contact (Photo via Shutterstock)
1/1
Silk treated with chlorine has been shown to kill anthrax-like bacteria within minutes of contact (Photo via Shutterstock)

When anthrax spores go dormant, they develop a tough outer coating that can withstand heat, radiation and antibiotics, in one case even allowing them to come back to life after 250 million years. It seems that such spores could be no match, however, for a special pair of silk curtains.

Dr. Rajesh R. Naik, a scientist with the Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio, led a team that developed a chlorinated form of silk. The process involved soaking regular silk in diluted bleach, then allowing it to dry. When the treated silk was exposed to E. coli bacteria, it killed almost all of them within ten minutes – it showed similar performance when subjected to spores of Bacillus thuringiensis, which is a close relative of anthrax.

Naik and his colleagues believe that in the event of an anthrax-based terrorist attack, such chlorinated silk could be used in curtains and make-shift protective coatings for buildings. They also suggest that it could be used to purify water, and to clean up toxic substances in the environment.

A paper on the research was recently published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces.

Source: American Chemical Society

3 comments
3 comments
yinfu99
So if anthrax is so tough then why not investigate "how" it can survive. That might be useful in so many ways from extending life, to long term 'stasis' for people for space flights, for special treatments for people who have to work in hazardous areas and more...
Victoria Dickerson
What?! Bleach kills microorganisms?
Charles Barnard
Sigh. Anthrax is an extremely poor choice for a biological weapon, it spreads poorly for starters.
Random killing of micro-organisms is a poor form of defense, the active live bacteria on your skin will kill the vast majority of foreign life-forms.