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Thermogel kills multidrug-resistant bacteria

Published online 9 May 2016

Scientists develop a thermogel to destroy disease-causing bacteria

Biplab Das

A laser light can convert a solution of a polymer and gold nanorods into a thermogel that kills multidrug-resistant bacteria by generating heat, says a new study1

The thermogel is potentially useful for destroying bacteria that cause infections in skin, soft tissues, urinary and gastrointestinal tracts.

Heat is an effective way to kill bacteria, but it can also damage healthy tissues as it wipes out bacteria from wounds.

Scientists from Zagzig University, Egypt, and University of Toronto, Canada, overcame this shortcoming with a thermogel that selectively kills multidrug-resistant bacteria, like Escherichia coli, Acinetobacter baumannii and Enterococcus faecalis, sparing normal tissues in mice. 

The gel is activated by laser light, and reverts to a liquid state when the laser is turned off. 

The thermogel also inhibits the growth of E. coli in surgically created wounds in mice, reducing bacterial load by 98% compared to untreated wounds.  

When exposure time to laser is increased, the thermogel shows higher antimicrobial efficiencies. In addition, it doesn’t disrupt the normal wound healing process in mice.    

“Bacteria residing in various human tissues and even on the surfaces of medical devices could be killed by forming heat-trapping thermogel with a hand-held laser,” says principal investigator Warren Che Wor Chan.


  1. Mohamed, M. A. A. et al. A versatile plasmonic thermogel for disinfection of antimicrobial resistant bacteria. Biomaterials (2016).