New silver-based antibacterial gel 100 times more effective in killing hospital-acquired infections

Silver particles. (Reference image from Rawpixel.)

Silver and sulphur-containing amino acids are the main components of a new antibacterial gel that is said to be a hundred times more effective than similar products.

A paper published in the Journal of Materials Chemistry B states that the proposed medication is cheap, non-toxic and easy to synthesize, which means it could potentially be used to cure hospital-acquired infections.

According to the study, the synthesis of new-generation drugs that are aimed at fighting pathogenic bacteria and biofilms—microbial communities attached to each other or any other surface—has become urgent as the misuse of antibiotics has led to drug resistance in bacteria.

Silver has gained prominence as an effective antibiotic additive as the metal has antibacterial, antiviral and anti-fungal properties.

So far, silver nanoparticles have shown their effectiveness in wound dressings, implants and catheters. However, in order to obtain such nanoparticles scientists often use expensive and toxic materials that may sometimes leave traces in the structure of the drug, and that can be unsafe for humans.

Eco-friendly silver synthesis

To address these issues, scientists at Russia’s Tver State University have synthesized silver nanoparticles via an eco-friendly technology that doesn’t require toxic reactants.

In detail, they replaced hazardous substances with sulphur amino acids that the human body already has. The amino acid molecules reduce silver from its salts, create a gel and retain its structure.

Due to these properties, it has become easier to create gels with silver nanoparticles—it’s enough to just mix amino acid solutions and silver salts. This makes it possible to stop using noxious chemicals and doesn’t require any specific conditions, which simplifies the process.

The researchers tested the gel’s anti-bacterial abilities on ESKAPE bacteria colonies, which is a group of microorganisms that include Enterococcus, Staphylococcus, Klebsiella, Acinetobacter, Pseudomonas and Enterobacter. These antibiotic-resistant bacteria cause hospital-related infections, for example, pneumonia and otitis media.

The test results show that the anti-bacterial gel is a hundred times more effective at inhibiting the growth of microorganisms and the formation of biofilms than other well-known drugs based on silver.

“Our technology is simple, non-toxic and cheap enough to be easily scaled up. Due to this, it can be used in drug synthesis for the treatment of various diseases: acute, chronic and hospital-acquired bacterial infections,” Dmitry Vishnevetskii, who leads the project, said in a media statement.

“In the future, we plan to test the gels on lab animals in order to determine the gel’s safety and effectiveness.”


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