The over prescription and the abuse of antibiotics could leading into a medical catastrophe. I remember the days when every know bacterial could be treated with these drugs. This reality is no longer true. Today, some bacteria strains are resistant to all FDA-approved antibiotics. For patients that require life-long treatment, the acquisition of multi-resistant bacteria is increasingly common and has devastating consequences. One such population is patients with cystic fibrosis. They suffer from continual lung infections, and the median survival age is disconcertingly short (~37 years). Many, especially the ones contracting multi-resistant bacteria, can die much earlier. Unfortunately, the pace of new antibiotic discovery, their development, and the time for FDA approval cannot keep up with bacterial adaption. Thus, we need to look elsewhere for treating these and other patients.


A goal of our lab is to transform the use ofd silver into viable antibacterial therapy. Mankind has a long history of using silver to prevent infections. My collaboration Dr. Wiley Youngs, Dept. of Chemistry at the University of Akron, has developed compounds that conjugate silver acetate with carbenes (silver carbine complexes or SCCs) as a means to delivering the active form of silver. Unlike solid silver nanoparticles, SCCs are molecules. Thus, every silver atom has the potential to be active, their dosages can be precisely controlled, and SCCs can be loaded into biodegradable nanoparticles, which can be optimized for lung delivery. Finally, the charge from 0 to +1 state can be easily be achieved when SCCs degrades in the presence of ions normally found in biological fluids.


Our lab has encapsulated SCCs into LTP nanoparticles (see the Nanotechnology section for the schematics of our nanoparticles), and my collaborators Dr. Carolyn Cannon, Pediatric Pulmonology Specialist, and Dr. Jeff Leid have tested their efficacy in mice infected with various clinical and laboratory stains of Pseudomonas aeruginosa, the most common infection in cystic fibrosis patients. Our published results are promising, yet much work is required for commercialization. A consortium of researchers and doctors are dedicated to the FDA approval for SCCs and nanoparticle-delivery devices.

Contestants on America's Got Talent in 2010. Both have beautiful voices and also have cystic fibrosis. The Life expectancy for these patients is freighting young.

Elemental silver and the chemical structure of SCCs. The functional groups can be varied to achieve hydrophilic or hydrophobic compounds. This flexibility aids in the encapsulation of sliver.