October 30, 2011
Amrita Center for Nanosciences, Kochi
“Antimicrobial resistance is not a new problem but one that is now becoming more dangerous,” reiterated officials of the World Health Organization (WHO) on World Health Day this year.
The theme of the day was – Antimicrobial Resistance: No Action Today, No Cure Tomorrow.
“Urgent and consolidated efforts are needed to avoid regressing to the pre-antibiotic era,” the officials added.
Concerted efforts are underway at the Amrita Centre for Nanosciences where a new antimicrobial agent was developed to combat drug resistant pathogens in wound care.
The work was recognized when the paper, Development of Novel Chitin/Nanosilver Composite Scaffolds for Wound Dressing Applications recently won the Journal of Materials Science 2010 Best Paper Award.
The paper was a joint effort by Amrita graduate students and faculty viz. K. Madhumathi, P. T. Sudheesh Kumar, S. Abilash, V. Sreeja, H. Tamura, K. Manzoor, Shantikumar V. Nair and R. Jayakumar.
The team incorporated silver nanoparticles into chitin scaffolds to treat complications in wound care such as infections and delayed healing caused by antibiotic micro organism resistance.
For centuries metallic silver and its salts were applied to treat burns and other skin conditions. “Silver returned to prominence recently due to the emergence of antibiotic resistant bacteria as a result of the overuse of antibiotics,” stated the researchers.
The team’s findings showed that as a wound healing agent, the potency of silver is increased when it’s in nanoparticle form and combined with chitin.
Chitin/nanosilver composite scaffolds were synthesized using nanosilver solution and chitin hydrogel. TEM, SEM, XRD and FT-IR tests were conducted for characterization.
Further studies were conducted on antibacterial, blood clotting and cytotoxicity activity using disc diffusion method, blood clotting comparisons and indirect cytotoxicity MTT assay.
Chitin/nanosilver composite scaffolds were found to be ideal for wound dressing due to their effective antimicrobial properties. The scaffolds were also found to be bactericidal against both S. aureus and E. coli and provided superior blood clotting ability.
The Amrita team has already developed porous, flexible and biocompatible wound dressing bandages based on natural polymeric hydrogels with antibacterial nanomaterials.
Prof. Jayakumar led the project supported by SERC Division of the Department of Science and Technology (Govt. of India) and Bioengineering Division of the Department of Biotechnology (Govt. of India).
“The discovery of antimicrobials is one of the most important advances in health in human history – alleviating suffering from disease and saving billions of lives over the past 70 years,” noted WHO officials.
Now the Amrita nanomedicine will help combat micro organism resistance that was beginning to cause greater suffering, mortality and higher health-care costs from the medical overuse of antimicrobials worldwide.