A recent study conducted by researchers at the University of Florida has shed light on the potential benefits of silver nanoparticles as a remedy for antibiotic-resistant bacteria, commonly referred to as “superbugs.” The findings, which were published in the journal Frontiers in Microbiology, revealed that some of these hard-to-treat infections can be eradicated upon contact with the silver.
The researchers tested the efficacy of silver nanoparticles in conjunction with aminoglycosides, a common class of broad-spectrum antibiotics. Their experiments showed that the combination of the two worked synergistically, reducing the amount of antibiotic needed to inhibit bacteria by 22-fold. This could result in a safer remedy as taking aminoglycosides alone can carry the risk of deadly side effects.
“The prolonged overuse of antibiotics has led to an environment where traditional remedies are no longer effective,” said Autumn Dove, a study author. “The addition of silver may provide an alternative solution.”
While antibiotics are primarily designed to target bacteria, they have the potential to damage human and animal cells. On the other hand, tests using a microscopic worm called C. elegans confirmed that silver does not harm non-bacterial cells and selectively targets just the harmful bacterial cells.
The next step for the researchers is to seek approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to conduct clinical trials on the silver-antibiotic formula. They also aim to collaborate with the University of Florida’s Innovate program to patent an antimicrobial product that contains silver nanoparticles.
The study has sparked a renewed interest in the historical use of silver and other natural metals as remedies. Some have expressed the belief that the benefits of silver have been hidden by the pharmaceutical industry. Others have noted that colloidal silver can be made at home fairly easily, and has been used by the U.S. Navy and the wealthy for its antimicrobial properties against bacteria, viruses, and fungi.