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Antimicrobials are used to kill or slow the growth of bacteria, viruses and other microorganisms. They can be in the form of antibiotics, used to treat bodily infections, or as an additive or coating on commercial products used to keep germs at bay. These life-saving tools are essential to preventing and treating infections in humans, animals and plants, but they also pose a global threat to public health when microorganisms develop resistance to them, a concept known as antimicrobial resistance.

One of the main drivers of antimicrobial resistance is the misuse and overuse of antimicrobial agents, which includes , an advanced material with well-documented antimicrobial properties. It is increasingly used in commercial products that boast enhanced germ-killing performance—it has been woven into textiles, coated onto toothbrushes, and even mixed into cosmetics as a preservative.

The Gilbertson Group at the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering used laboratory strains of E.coli to better understand to nanoparticles and attempt to get ahead of the potential misuse of this material. The team recently published their results in Nature Nanotechnology.

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