In 2011, IBM researchers and a research group in Singapore showed off a new kind of synthetic, biodegradable nano particle that doctors could use to attack bacteria cells that are resistant to antibiotics. Now, the same group of researchers have made the “nanomedicine” much more practical by delivering it in the form of a cream or gel that you can rub on wounds or inject into infected regions.

Call them nanomeds. They could save your life one day.

If this nanomedicine works as broadly as the scientists hope, it could save countless lives and protect vulnerable people such as hospital patients from illnesses that arise from bacterial infections, including staph. The medicine is based on a trick from chip manufacturing, where researchers can isolate certain kinds of cells and attack them. Too many of today’s drugs or disinfectants kill off both good cells and bad cells indiscriminately, but the synthetic polymers that IBM created can identify bacteria cells and destroy their membrane walls.