NATIONAL - Some French clay has researchers in Arizona extremely excited.
Said Dr. Shelley Haydel, "Is this the big breakthrough that I'm going to encounter in my career? And actually, I think it might be."
The healing clay may one day become a potent weapon in the fight against bacteria. It's already been documented to kill a virulent form of flesh eating bacteria found in Africa.
Dr. Haydel says, "Once the disease becomes ulcerative, there's no known antibiotic that will allow physicians to treat these particular patients."
So scientists at Arizona State are looking at two different clays to unlock the secret of the healing powers.
Dr. Haydel says, "We have a really good comparison, because we have two different clays, one that kills completely, almost completely, most bacteria and the other one that doesn't kill at all."
Geochemist Lynda Williams is responsible for studying the specific properties of the clay. "We want to know if there are other clays out there that have similar properties and kill all the same bacteria or if perhaps different types of clays from different environments kill specific bacteria."
The process isn't easy but Doctor Haydel simplifies it for us. "What we really do is we just take the clay and we mix it with a certain concentration of bacteria and we allow that to incubate for a certain period of time."
The clay's antibacterial action could really shake things up.
Lynda Williams says, "I can imagine all kinds of applications in hospitals where you might be able to put coatings on instrumentation or something that would sterilize the instrumentation."
The National Institute of Health awarded the scientists a two-year grant for their research.
Once that study is complete they will go into clinical trials.