Seaweed-silver combo can fight drug-resistant bacteria in biofilms

Researchers at Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee (IIT-Roorkee) have developed a new eco-friendly nanocomposite that promises to help fight the problem of such antibiotic resistance more effectively

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By Dr Aditi Jain

New Delhi: Antibiotic resistance is a major problem in the health sector globally. Many times bacteria form biofilms to resist the action of antibiotics. They do so by adhering together to form a matrix with the help of polymer which they produce. Such microbial films are responsible for failure of devices such as catheters and ventilators.  

Researchers at Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee (IIT-Roorkee) have developed a new eco-friendly nanocomposite that promises to help fight the problem of such antibiotic resistance more effectively. The newly synthesized nanocomposite is capable of penetrating these biofilms and kill microbes.

The new compound has been developed by combining silver particles with ĸ-Carrageenan, a polymer derived from red sea weed. The polymer is conventionally used in food products as a gelling, thickening and emulsifying agent.

Silver nanoparticles are already known to have the ability to kill microbes but they are instable and have a short shelf life. Researchers used ĸ-Carrageenan to increase stability and shelf life of silver nanoparticles. They made a solution of ĸ-Carrageenan with silver nitrate and irradiated it in a microwave synthesizer. The nanocomposite thus obtained was found to be very stable and having a long shelf life, while being effective against both Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria.

Researchers at IIT-Roorkee. Dr Krishna Mohan Poluri (Standing) and Mukesh Kumar Meher.

“Capping of silver nanocomposites with ĸ-carrageenan imparts it stability and shelf life up to six 6 months, which is one of the essential features of therapeutic formulations. The nanocomposite shows excellent antimicrobial activity against S.aureus and P.aeruginosa bacterial biofilms,” researchers said. As carrageenan has been widely studied for its antifungal, anti-viral, anti-cancerous and immunomodulatory properties, the nanocomposite based on it can have huge potential in biomedical applications.

The new nanocomposite also has potential applications in food packaging industry as microbial films spoil food products. “We are currently devising cost-effective anti-bacterial wound dressing materials and food packaging materials using the new nanocomposite. We plan to study its efficacy as potent anti-fungal and anti-viral agents too,” mentioned Dr Krishna Mohan Poluri, a member of the research team.

The research results have been published in journal Carbohydrate Polymers. Besides Dr Krishna Mohan Poluri, the team included Apoorva Goel, Mukesh Kumar Meher, Payal Gupta, Khushboo Gulati and Vikas Pruthi.

(India Science Wire)