Recently, essential oils and other natural compounds have emerged as alternative substances that can get rid of pathogenic bacteria. However, researchers were not able to translate their antibacterial activity into treatments.
In a new breakthrough, scientists have discovered a way to package antimicrobial compounds from peppermint and cinnamon in tiny capsules that can kill bacteria on chronic wounds and actively promote healing. Infectious colonies of bacteria (biofilms) that develop on chronic wounds and medical devices can cause serious health problems and are difficult to treat.
The new material, reported in the journal ACS Nano, could be used as a topical antibacterial treatment and disinfectant. Many bacteria clump together in sticky plaques in a way that makes them difficult to eliminate with traditional antibiotics. Doctors sometimes recommend cutting out infected tissues. Not only is this approach costly, it is also invasive because of which many patients opt out of the treatment altogether.
Vincent M Rotello and colleagues from department of biomedical and materials applications of nanosystems, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, wanted to address this issue. The researchers packaged peppermint oil and cinnamaldehyde, the compound in cinnamon responsible for its flavor and aroma, into silica nanoparticles.
The microcapsule treatment was effective against four different types of bacteria, including one antibiotic-resistant strain. It also promoted the growth of fibroblasts—a cell type that is important in wound healing.
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