Beating bacteria is an ongoing battle in which we all have a stake and, generally, great interest. While for years the mantra was to wash our hands and do so vigorously with antibacterial soap, take our -cillin family prescriptions often and to the end, and even keep some on hand for trips or emergencies to take at will, the tides have turned in the way medical professionals are advising us on fighting these dreadful germs that have the ability to take us down a notch—or even put us in the grave. It’s easy to get confused and see antibiotics almost as the enemy today. The key, however, is just in using them strategically, and now–even employing 3D printing to create a variety of safer forms and usage.
Scientists in China from NanChang University have created a brilliant way to empower patients in their use of antibiotics, eliminating anxiety associated with overuse through simple control. Outlined in a recent paper published in Journal of Materials Chemistry B, ‘The first visually observable three-mode antibiotic switch and its relative 3D printing assisted applications,’ authored by Miaoxing Liu, Fang Fang, Xiangwei Song, Fen Yu, Fengshun Li, Xiaotong Shi, Chaowen Xue, Tingtao Chen, and Xiaolei Wang, we learn more about the details of their antibiotic nanocomposite which is able to function in several different modes according to need.
“Multidrug-resistant strains are now responsible for around 13,500 deaths from healthcare-associated infections in one year in the 27 member states of the European Union,” state the researchers in their paper. “In America, the prevalence of bacterial infection had increased markedly, and it was reported that two million patients suffered from hospital-acquired infections, and approximately 30% of these infections were confirmed as drug-resistant bacteria infections.”
“The key strategy to addressing this problem is the precise use of highly efficient antibacterial agents. An ideal antibacterial therapy should possess the following characteristics: firstly, high efficient and broad spectrum antibacterial agents should be developed to deal with several pathogens, especially drug-resistant bacteria.”
Their solution is simple in concept: create an antibiotic able to be kept for a long period of time safely, and allow precise dosages to be doled out when and if they are needed. The researchers believe that a system like this could feasibly eliminate issues associated with antibiotic resistance. Led by Professor Xiaolei Wang, the team created a ‘supramolecular antibiotic switch,’ which is what makes manipulating the medication possible.
“In this study, the first visible antibiotic switchable agent was realized by using biocompatible carbon membrane packaged silver nanoparticles (CPSNs, ‘Packaged’ mode),” stated the researchers. “The original idea of the present strategy was inspired by a daily fresh keeping film packaged fruit.”
“In this case, carbon dots were synthesized to provide packages for silver nanoparticles (AgNPs), which formed a protective membrane and acted as switchable capsule bodies.”
Testing on mice, no deaths were reported using the capsules which regulate ‘activity of antibacterial silver’ through three switchable modes: packaged, on, and off. Through introducing 3D printing, different shapes and applications can be fabricated. A smart bandage or bandaid type of application was created as well by combining two nonwoven fabrics. While the top portion contained a sterilized PBS solution, the bottom layer allowed for the CPSN solution in packaged mode.
This type of fabricated bandaid could be used conventionally, but what makes it really unique—and helpful—is that in the case of an infection, CPSN can be moved to the top of the bandage and then it can be turned on by pressing it with one’s finger, also causing the bandage to turn from white to orange. Not only is this an innovative device, but the actual medication in the form of the nanoparticles was found to be more powerful in fighting drug-susceptible and drug-resistant strains. Research also showed that the prepared CPSN is very safe, and allows for great potential in future applications. The scientists see this new project as offering great discovery for allowing possible ways to reduce ‘environmental impacts,’ as well as helping to eliminate troublesome and drug-resistant bacteria.
“Wang’s team is helping to realize a future where medical treatment has become on-demand, highly personalized, with treatment modalities that are patient specific, not ‘one size fits all,’” states David Mills, an expert in bioactive therapeutics at Louisiana Tech University, US, who is impressed with the innovation.
The team’s research was made possible due to support by the National Natural Science Foundation of China and the Science Foundation of Jiangxi Provincial Department of Education. Discuss in the 3D Printing and Antibiotics forum over at 3DPB.com.[Source: Chemistry World; Journal of Materials Chemistry]