New Silver-Based Gel Effective Against Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria

Scientists have developed an antibacterial gel using silver that is 100 times more effective against six antibiotic-resistant bacteria than other silver-based compounds.

Developing drugs to combat pathogenic bacteria and biofilms has long been a top priority in medical research. Over the past century, antibiotics have served as the primary treatment for bacterial infections, but their excessive use has given rise to antibiotic resistance.

Because of this, scientists and healthcare professionals are increasingly seeking alternative antibiotics to treat infections while preventing the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Some of the latest developments in alternative antibiotics include using fruit fly peptides or artificial intelligence (AI) to create antimicrobial compounds.

Another possible solution is silver — a metal known for its potent antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties. Silver nanoparticles are already used in wound dressings, implants, and catheters. However, the methods for producing silver nanoparticles often rely on expensive and toxic materials, which may leave traces of these compounds in the final drug product — posing potential risks to human health.

However, researchers from Tver State University in Tver, Russia, have successfully synthesized silver nanoparticles into gel form using an environmentally friendly and non-toxic approach that eliminates the need for hazardous chemicals.

Their research appears in the Journal of Materials Chemistry B.

Instead of relying on toxic substances, the scientists turned to sulfur amino acids, which are naturally present in the human body. These amino acid molecules not only reduce silver ions from their salts but also form a gel matrix that preserves the nanoparticles' structure.

This approach simplifies the production of silver nanoparticle gels, as it only requires mixing amino acid solutions with silver salts, eliminating the use of harmful chemicals and specific conditions.

Moreover, when the researchers tested the gel's effectiveness on antibiotic-resistant ESKAPE bacteria colonies, which include Enterococcus, Staphylococcus, Klebsiella, Acinetobacter, Pseudomonas, and Enterobacter, they found it to be 100 times more effective in inhibiting the growth of microorganisms and biofilm formation than other silver-based drugs.

ESKAPE bacteria are known for their resistance to antibiotics and involvement in hospital-acquired infections such as pneumonia and ear infections.

The study authors note that the silver-based gel is simple to make, cost-effective, and non-toxic and could potentially treat a wide range of bacterial infections, including those acquired in the hospital setting.

Moving forward, the team plans to conduct more research testing the gel's safety and effectiveness against antibiotic-resistant bacteria in lab animals.

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