Researchers from the Centre for Nanobioscience at the Agharkar Research Institute have found an alternative antimicrobial to silver sulfadiazine, which is used in topical gels for burn patients and to treat infections: silver nanoparticles.
The researchers reported in Molecular Pharmaceutics, a publication of the American Chemical Society, that silver nanoparticles, each 1/50,000th the width of the human hair, are more effective antimicrobials than traditional gels with silver sulfadiazine or silver nitrate for healing the skin. Further, a gel containing the silver nanoparticles, with 30 times less silver than silver sulfadiazine, did not have any apparent toxic effects when applied to the healthy skin of test animals.
The gel killed a broad range of harmful bacteria, including Pseudomonas aeruginosa, one of the most common causes of burn infections, as well as several drug-resistant microbes. According to Kishore Paknikar and colleagues, topical silver agents can lose effectiveness in the body, cause skin discoloration, and damage cells. Drug-resistant bacteria also can make these treatments less effective. These silver nanoparticles could provide a safer alternative to conventional antimicrobial agents in topical formulations.