A Silver Bullet for Defeating Antibiotic Resistance?


I’ve recently read that there may be a silver bullet for defeating antibiotic resistance.

Silver has a long been used in medicine. 2,500 years ago the Greeks used it to heal wounds, Persian kings used it to purify their water, and during the First World War some surgeons applied it to battlefield injuries. (The image above is of Hippocrates the Greek father of medicine).

With the arrival of penicillin 70-years ago its use ceased. Now scientists are experimenting with its return after studies indicated that silver nanoparticles could help revive the potency of antibiotics that have lost their efficacy.

Antibiotic resistance is one of the big issues facing medicine, with strains of infection now evolving that can evade all treatments, this resistance causes over 700,000 deaths worldwide each year, and a UK government review has predicted this could rise to 10 million by 2050.

Attempts to create new antibiotic drugs have so far been unsuccessful and many scientists are now looking at re-engineering existing drugs so that they may overcome bacterial resistance. They have found that not only did silver boost the ability of a broad range of commonly used antibiotics, but made at least one resistant bacterium succumb to antibiotics again.

It is not completely clear why silver particles have helped stop bacteria, but some potential mechanisms have been found. Evidently, when bacteria cells are exposed to silver particles, the bacterial cell wall is punctured and the bacteria become more susceptible to further influx of silver ions which causes disruption of cellular protein production and metabolic dysfunction.

Some members of the scientific community remain sceptical and a lot more experiments need to be done, and serious clinical trials must be carried out. In the mean time perhaps you should consider drinking out of a silver mug to make water drinking healthier.

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