The ball shapes are bacteria and the “sheet” is black phosphorus, under the microscope at RMIT University. (Credit: Aaron Elbourne and colleagues, RMIT University. Note:images colored in post-production.)

Researchers have invented a nano-thin superbug-slaying material that could one day be integrated into wound dressings and implants to prevent or heal bacterial infections. The innovation – which has undergone advanced pre-clinical trials – is effective against a broad range of drug-resistant bacterial cells, including ‘golden staph’, which are commonly referred to as superbugs.

The new study tested black phosphorus-based nanotechnology as an advanced in Advanced Therapeutics show it effectively treated infections, killing over 99 percent of bacteria, without damaging other cells in biological models.

The treatment achieved comparable results to an antibiotic in eliminating infection and accelerated healing, with wounds closing by 80 percent over seven days.

The superbug-killing nanotechnology was rigorously tested in pre-clinical trials by wound-healing experts. The researchers have sought patent protection for the black phosphorus flakes including its use in wound healing formulations, such as gels.

The new study tested the effectiveness of nano-thin flakes of black phosphorus against five common bacteria strains, including E. coli and drug-resistant golden staph.

The team wants to collaborate with potential industry partners to develop and prototype the technology.