Antibiotic resistance is a growing source of worldwide concern, resulting in the rapid proliferation of bacteria which cannot be effectively killed using conventional drugs. According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC), at least 2 million people in the United States acquire infections which are resistant to one or more antibiotics each year. These infections are directly responsible for over 23,000 deaths, and cost the U.S. healthcare system in excess of $20 billion to treat. What is more, recent studies have shown that most deaths related to these infections happen in healthcare settings such as hospitals and nursing homes, where patients are already likely to be immunocompromised.1 Therefore, it is of paramount importance that we develop alternative methods to combat the spread of these resistant bacteria.
To this end, metallic nanoparticles have long been investigated as potential antimicrobial agents due to their unique physiochemical properties which are not present at the macro scale. One promising strategy has been the development of antibacterial nanoparticle coatings which could potentially be applied to a variety of surfaces, ranging from hospital equipment to implanted medical devices. This study involved the synthesis and characterization of a novel antimicrobial nano-coating composed of vertical copper nanorods (NR) capped with a variety of different metal nanoparticles (NP), including silver, tin, gallium and indium. First, the NR-NP structures were manufactured on silicon wafers and characterized using scanning (SEM) and transmission (TEM) electron microscopy. The micrographs proved that the metal NPs had been successfully capped on top of the copper NRs. Finally, the antibacterial properties of the NR-NP structures were assessed using a methicillin-resistant strain of Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA, ATCC #43300), a Gram-positive bacteria that is responsible for a high percentage of nosocomial infections.2 Results showed for the first time that treatment with the copper NR-NP structures resulted in a significant reduction in bacterial growth, with the greatest inhibition displayed by the copper NRs capped with silver NPs.
1. Antibiotic Resistance threats in the United States, 2013, Center for Disease control and Prevention
2. World Health Organization, Antimicrobial resistance, Fact sheet N°194 (Updated April 2015)
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