According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest threats to global health. It can affect anyone, of any age, in any country.
It has also led to infections such as pneumonia, tuberculosis, blood poisoning, gonorrhoea and foodborne diseases becoming difficult and sometimes now impossible to treat, as antibiotics become less effective.
Researchers from AGA Nanotech, working with University College London (UCL), have developed a unique alternative to antibiotics.
They have enabled the safe and effective delivery of antimicrobials, which do not give rise to resistance. Borrowing approaches used in oncology, they have identified a means of delivering high energy oxidative molecules to the site of infection without harming the patient.
By loading particles produced by a thermally induced phase separation (TIPS) technique developed by Dr Richard Day at UCL, they have been able to use microparticles to direct the controlled delivery of antimicrobial agents straight to the site of infection.
The use of nanoplatforms allows the delivery of highly oxidative biocides directly to infecting bacteria without being toxic to the body. Unlike antibiotics, its unique properties allow it to overcome any antibiotic resistance the bacteria may have.
The AGA Nanotech precursor loaded TIPS particles provide an innovative antimicrobial alternative to classic antibiotic agents and could serve as adjunctive or replacement therapy.
The first application from the company will be in the field of wound care. However, the technology can be adapted for pulmonary, oral or systemic delivery. It offers great potential for the creation of bespoke approaches to different clinical conditions and also avoids the issue of continually bringing new expensive antibiotics to market.
AGA Nanotech's current technology incorporates precursors for hydrogen peroxide and peracetic acid within nanoparticles and microparticles. This approach is preferred because the inert precursors deliver highly reactive oxidative biocides and hence do not give rise to resistance, but have low systemic toxicity and breakdown to give benign residues.
Adrian Fellows of AGA Nanotech, said: “We can engineer biodegradable nanoparticles that have a broad range of physical and biological properties that can specifically target an organ or infection site, this is both novel and transformative.”
“Our research demonstrates that we can load precursor compounds, release them in a controlled way and convert them into oxidative species.”