Blue light turns hydrogen peroxide into MRSA super bug killer

Hydrogen peroxide may be the surprising solution to the health care industry's growing MRSA super bug problem. The inexpensive solution, which is commonly found in medicine cabinets for use with simple scraps and cuts, becomes a powerful MRSA-killer when exposed to blue light, according to new research. The study arrives as the world scrambles for ways to deal with its growing antibiotic-resistant super bug problem.

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is staph bacteria that can cause serious infections, potentially resulting in sepsis or death, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Hospitals and other health care facilities have increasingly faced drug-resistant MRSA, which is difficult to treat and could be fatal to patients.

According to researchers with Boston University's College of Engineering, hydrogen peroxide exposed to blue light was found to kill 99.9-percent of MRSA, hinting at a potential future treatment that doesn't rely on antibiotics. MRSA bacteria has a golden pigmentation that experiences 'traumatic photobleaching' when exposed to blue light, according to the researchers.

It only took seconds for this damage to occur; afterward, the bacteria's cell membranes were vulnerable and this led to about 90-percent of the cultures dying. However, the bacteria that resisted exposure recovered and began multiplying in as little as half an hour. The solution to this problem was hydrogen peroxide.

MRSA is ordinarily resistant to hydrogen peroxide due to the bacteria's cell membranes. However, as mentioned above, exposure to blue light leaves the cell membranes vulnerable and it takes some time for the surviving cells to rebound. By delivering hydrogen peroxide and blue light together, the researchers were able to destroy 99.9-percent of the MRSA bacteria.