As antibiotic resistance is increasingly threatening the medical fraternity, scientists have succeeded in developing a new method to treat airway infections with nanoparticles, which act as effective conduits to transport the antibiotics to their destination.
Mucoviscidosis or cystic fibrosis is an inherited life-threatening disorder that damages the lungs and digestive system making it lethal for patients unless they undergo a lung transplant.
With nanoparticles, inhaled antibiotics can play a considerable role in treating cystic fibrosis though it can not entirely avoid the colonisation by bacteria, said scientists. It can check the bacteria for a longer period of time, they said.
When the bacteria develops resistance, the growth of so-called biofilms underneath the layer of mucus will block the bacteria in the lower rows like a protective shield.
"Typically, the drugs are applied by inhalation in the body. Then they make a complicated way through the body to the pathogens and many of them don't make it to their destination," Dagmar Fischer at the University of Jena, in Germany.
To overcome the antibiotic resistance, the researchers added the active antibiotic Tobramycin, in a polyester polymer. Then they created a nanoparticle which was tested in the lab to a simulated lung situation, in a static as well as in a dynamic state.
The scientists found that their nanoparticle travels more easily through the sponge-like net of the mucus layer and is finally able to kill off the pathogens. Added with applied coating of polyethylenglycol makes it nearly invisible for the immune system, they said.
"All materials of a nanocarrier are biocompatible, biodegradable, nontoxic and therefore not dangerous for humans," the researchers noted.
However, the Jena scientists could not pinpoint exactly why their nanoparticle fights the bacteria so much more efficiently. But they want to finally get clarification in their next experiment.
"Either the much more efficient transport method advances significantly larger amounts of active ingredients to the center of infection, or the nanoparticle circumvents a defense mechanism, which the bacterium has developed against the antibiotic," explained the Jena Pharmacist Fischer.
Additionally, the Jena research team had to prepare the nanoparticles for the inhalation. Because at 200 nanometers the particle is too small to get into the deeper airways.
According to World Health Organization (WHO), treatment of infections, medical procedures such as organ transplantation, cancer chemotherapy, diabetes management and major surgery like caesarean sections or hip replacements become 'very high risk' operations and also the cost of health care with lengthier stays in hospitals geoparizes the global healthcare program.
WHO estimates show that in 2014 about 480,000 new cases of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) were found to be resistant to the two most powerful anti-TB drugs.
Antimicrobial resistance is one of the Millennium Development Goals vouched by the global health body to fight against.