There is healing power in gold and silver. Both precious metals serve as an investment as well as money. Gold and silver also have technological applications. We recently reported that gold is the new green with a growing number of environmental applications. Today, we focus on some of the amazing developments using gold and silver in healthcare applications.
For centuries, silver has been used as an antibacterial agent and to fight infections. Today, scientists are using cutting-edge research techniques to study how exactly silver poisons pathogenic microbes.
The work of scientists like Joe Lemiresuch from Calgary University is yielding new insights on how to create effective antimicrobials and avoid the pitfalls of antimicrobial resistance.
"With our enhanced mechanistic understanding of silver toxicity, we also aim to develop novel silver-based antimicrobial therapies, and potentially rejuvenate other antibiotic therapies that bacteria have come to resist, via silver-based co-treatment strategies."
Silver is already used to control bacteria in many clinical settings and is used in hundreds of antibacterial products. Corning has even developed a silver-based Antimicrobial Gorilla Glass that resists microbial growth. Gaining a deeper understanding of silver's antimicrobial properties will help scientists make even better use of the white metal's healing properties.
To delve into silver's antibacterial process, Lemire and his team use a gene-editing platform that allows them to screen for and delete genes of specific resistant bacterial species. Lemire said they have discovered numerous biological pathways involved in silver toxicity and some surprising ways bacteria avoid succumbing to silver poisoning. By identifying how some bacteria resit silver's ability to kill them, scientists hope to develop effective methods to attack resistant bacterial strains.
Silver isn't alone in its amazing healthcare applications. Gold nanoparticles are being used in hundreds of millions of Rapid Diagnostic Tests (RDTs). The gold drives a color change on the test strip in the presence of various disease. Scientists have developed test strips that can diagnose malaria, HIV/Aids, hepatitis, sleeping sickness, and syphilis with just a drop of blood. According to the World Gold Council, the tests are simple, reliable and robust, and they can be used anywhere in the world without the need for expensive equipment or complex supply chains.
Dr. David Bell explains the significance of this development in a video produced by the World Gold Council.
"The reason why diagnostic testing is so important is because most people who die from infectious diseases die because they got the wrong medicine, or they got the right medicine, but too late."
Particle Synthesis Group leads the way in developing these testing strips. Manager Darren Rowles explains the key role gold plays in the process.