David Brenner: A new weapon in the fight against superbugs
We are decidedly losing the war against superbugs, and with a projected annual death toll by 2050 of 10 million people. David Brenner would like to stop that. Full bio
Double-click the English transcript below to play the video.
at the moment,
of some soccer fans --
celebrating a famous victory
that's my friend Paul Rice.
after this picture was taken,
for some minor surgery,
a superbug-related infection,
from a couple of TEDsters,
personal war on superbugs.
for a moment.
introduction of antibiotics.
have continued to emerge,
newer and newer drugs
actually is the origin of superbugs,
for which we don't have effective drugs.
at least some of these superbugs.
common ones around today.
approach to the problem,
by the middle of this century
from superbugs will be 10 million.
that's actually more
that died of cancer worldwide last year.
that we're not on a good road,
to this problem is not working.
a physics-based approach --
every kind of microbe,
for more than 100 years.
what ultraviolet light is.
that includes infrared,
of this group is ultraviolet light.
by a completely different mechanism
of killing a drug-resistant bacteria
is so good at killing all bugs,
to sterilize rooms,
in this picture, actually,
is actually a health hazard,
germicidal, ultraviolet light
when there are people around.
to kill all bacteria,
background kicked into this story.
wavelength of ultraviolet light
of the ultraviolet spectrum.
is the surface of our skin,
some bacteria in the air above the skin.
ultraviolet light impinges on this.
is really good at killing bacteria,
into the upper layers of our skin,
those key cells in our skin
can lead to skin cancer.
in the air above them.
perfectly fine at killing bacteria,
is penetrate into our skin.
solid physics reason for that:
absorbed by all biological materials,
are really, really, really small,
penetrate them and kill them,
is penetrate into skin,
the dead-cell area
should be able to kill bacteria,
has been working on
to both these questions
surprised to say that,
of physics at work.
a completely new weapon,
in food preparation areas.
the spread of viruses,
in airports or airplanes,
of viruses like H1N1 virus.
and well-loved local politician
in the center of Liverpool,
in this war against superbugs.
I've got a question for you.
in developing this,
to trying to roll out
that it kills all bacteria,
that before we started,
of tests about safety,
than it is about efficacy.
melanoma many years on.
are pretty well done at this point.
we have to deal with,
in the real world without FDA approval.
to launch first in the US,
there is a certain skepticism
that UV light is not safe.
we're going to be standing on.
for sharing this with us.
ABOUT THE SPEAKERDavid Brenner - Radiation scientist
We are decidedly losing the war against superbugs, and with a projected annual death toll by 2050 of 10 million people. David Brenner would like to stop that.
Why you should listen
David Brenner directs the Center for Radiological Research at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City and has numerous distinctions within his field such as the Oxford University Weldon Prize and the Radiation Research Society Failla Gold Medal Award. Founded by a student of Marie Curie more than a century ago, the Center for Radiological Research is committed to exploiting all forms of radiation to improve medical care.
As Brenner sees it, radiation is very much a two-edged sword -- used in the right way it has revolutionized modern medicine, such as through CT scans and as a cure for many cancers. But radiation used in the wrong way can be harmful. To maximize the benefits of the many different types of radiation, we need to understand exactly how they affect us, from our DNA to the whole person.
Over the past six years, Brenner and his team have applied this idea in working towards a safe way to kill drug-resistant bacteria such as MRSA, as well as airborne microbes such as influenza and TB, using a unique type of ultra-violet light, known as far-UVC.
In short, it is pure physics -- far-UVC light is safe for us because it cannot even penetrate through the dead-cell layer on the surface of our skin or the tear layer on the surface of our eyes. But because bacteria and viruses are physically very small, far-UVC light does have enough penetration to efficiently kill them.
Brenner envisions a wide range of applications for this new weapon in the war against superbugs, such as in operating rooms during surgery to minimize the risk of surgical site infections, in schools to prevent the spread of influenza or measles, in shelters to prevent the spread of TB, or in airplanes and airports to prevent the global spread of viruses like H1N1.
David Brenner | Speaker | TED.com