Combining antibiotics with silver nanoparticles may help address drug resistance

Researchers at Delhi's Jamia Millia find that a combination is more effective against bacteria than when using either antibiotics or silver nanoparticles alone
Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images

Indiscriminate use of antibiotics has led to the evolution of antibiotic resistant bacteria. This problem has emerged as a major threat to public health as antibiotics are losing their potential to cure diseases.  In recent years, scientists have developed a potential alternative in the form of silver nanoparticles. But it appears bacteria are acquiring resistance to silver nanoparticles as well.

To address this emerging problem, scientists at Delhi’s Jamia Millia Islamia University have now combined silver nanoparticles with an antibiotic and found that this formulation can kill antibiotic-resistant bacteria effectively even at low dosage. Silver nanoparticles were combined with Ampicillin and it was found that the new formulation is effective in defeating drug-resistant bacteria.

Ampicillin, which is one of the early antibiotics, works by interfering with bacteria’s ability to form a cell wall, while silver nanoparticles act by causing damage to their cell membrane. The cases of Ampicillin resistance are now common, and some gram-negative bacteria are showing resistance to silver nanoparticles as well.

Researchers tested the new formulation on six different strains of bacteria (both sensitive and resistant to antibiotics). They found that it was not only effective in killing bacteria but also did so at a much lower concentration than Ampicillin and silver nanoparticles alone.

Researchers also tested the possibility of bacteria becoming resistant to the new formulation. For this, they repeatedly exposed the bacteria to it and found that bacteria showed no resistance even after 15 cycles of exposure. The new formulation proved to be more effective in getting rid of the bacteria as it killed them at a lower dose and the bacteria did not show resistance to this formulation.

“The results of this study would be extended to more clinically pathogenic and resistant strains. Also, modification of silver nanoparticles and other non-toxic nano-materials with different kinds of drugs would be standardised and their antimicrobial activity will be studied with superbugs, which are resistant to most antibiotics,” said Meryam Sardar, leader of the research team, while discussing her future plans with India Science Wire.

A report on the research findings has been published in the journal Scientific Reports. The research team included Nafeesa Khatoon, Hammad Alam, Afreen Khan and Khalid Raza apart from Meryam Sardar. (India Science Wire)

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