Got a fungal infection? IBM wants to help cure it with the plastic in your recyclable water bottle.
Today, the company announced that IBM Research has discovered a way to convert common plastic, such as polyethylene terephthalate (PET), into an antifungal material that could someday help people suffering from a variety of maladies.
In a release, IBM Research said more than a billion people suffer from some sort of fungal infection every year -- things ranging from athlete's foot to much more serious blood infections. But the company said existing drugs are becoming less and less effective as infections have grown resistant to many of them. Further, traditional therapies aren't very efficient at targeting and penetrating the fungi membrane wall, which they must get past in order to be effective.
By contrast, IBM's research has shown that by transforming PET through an organic catalytic process, it can be possible to generate antifungal molecules cable of focused attacks on the fungi membrane wall.
In addition to being a potentially effective treatment for so many people's infections, the transformation of the plastic could also be a boon to the environment, since there are 5.5 billion pounds of PET products that could be turned into medicine instead of secondary products.