Conquering space has been a dream of humanity since ancient times, but the number of potential roadblocks continues to grow. A new study claims that exposure to space condition allows bacteria to evolve into lethal superbugs.
The study took place on the International Space Station, and the results were quite surprising. The resulting superbugs are very resistant to treatment and more potent in comparison to their Earth counterparts. It seems that the stress of reaching space takes a toll on the human body, with the organism being more susceptible to disease, a fact that could lead to severe issues if an outbreak occurs within a colony.
To prevent the possibility of bringing superbugs back to Earth a team of researchers developed a high-performance coating named AGXX. The coating can kill any bacteria which touch it, as it contains silver and ruthenium. These substances can combat a large number of bacteria including yeasts, viruses, and fungi.
Exposure to space conditions could transform neutral bacteria into lethal superbugs
The effect of the coating could be compared to that of medical-grade bleach, but unlike the well-known disinfectant, the lining can regenerate and last forever. A battery of tests revealed that no bacteria were found on surfaced treated with AGXX, even if six months had passed since the treatment was first applied. A significant boon is represented by the fact that no pathogens were present on the test surfaces, which means that the risks faced by the ISS crew are minimal.
In recent years, the number of countries with an active space program has continued to grow. While we are decades away from colonizing the moon, some researchers are already working on effective strategies which should allow humans to create settlements which mimic most of the conditions present on Earth.
The new study may encourage other scientists to take a closer look at the way space conditions can influence life forms in positive and negative ways. The research has been published in a peer-reviewed journal.
With over seven years of experience in online journalism, Vadim is passionate about everything related to science and the environment. For us, he will thus cover climate, environment, and science news, among others.