IBM might have a world champion in the form of a chess computer a fair number of years ago, but intellectual pursuits are not the only agenda on the computing giant’s radar. They have taken an interest in the world of biology this time around, where IBM Research is looking into a new method of killing bacteria such as the deadly methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), although this one will not result in the use of antibiotics, but will be based on semiconductor technology instead. This particular group of scientists were previously looking for a way to perform microscopic etching on silicon wafers at a far smaller scale compared to what is available in the market at the moment, but during the course of their research, they managed to identify materials which are able to produce an electrostatic charge when chained to form a polymer.
One of their creations is what they call “ninja polymers”. When these components are introduced to the bloodstream or water, these ninja polymers are able to self-assemble into biocompatible nanostructures. As for the “ninjas”, they are actually electrostatically drawn to infected cells, and will not affect healthy ones in any way. Once it has arrived at the infected cells, they are capable of killing off such bacteria, picking them off one by one. Once the job is done, these ninja polymers will biodegrade afterwards without resulting in any side effects, and neither will it accumulate in the body. Will this spell the end of cancer and viruses like HIV?