Investigating Effective Alternatives to Silver-based Pressure Sore Treatments and Other Novel Applications of Gold and Copper Nanoparticles

By: Arjun G.
Year: 2021
School: Los Alamitos High
Grade: 9
Science Teacher: Shereen Awad

Recently after undergoing a major surgery, Arjun’s grandfather developed a pressure sore on his tailbone that dug deep into his skin to the point that the bone was visible. To help treat the pressure sore, he was prescribed a silver nanoparticle-based medication. Because silver nanoparticles are known to have cytotoxic and genotoxic side effects, Arjun was determined to find an effective alternative. He discovered that nanoparticles such as Gold (AuNPs) and Copper (CuNPs) have antibacterial properties and are biocompatible. This study looks to address the problem of silver in the medical field by testing the effectiveness of AuNPs or CuNPs as a non-toxic alternative.

Proposal: Using metal nanoparticles (AuNP and CuNP) with Agar gel to replace the use of silver and establish the effectiveness of the compound. Some other practical applications of metal nanoparticles in antibacterial treatments are also explored.

The test subjects were Escherichia coli (E.coli), the gram-negative bacteria, and Bacillus subtilis (B. subtilis), the gram-positive bacteria. This first phase primarily focuses on using nano-materials in treating bacterial infections in wounds therefore assisting the healing process. After careful analysis, Arjun was able to conclude that gold nanoparticles (AuNP) either did not reach Minimum Inhibitory Concentrations (MIC) for E.coli and B. subtilis or were too inert to be effective in combating bacteria that forms on pressure sores. Copper, however, demonstrated bactericidal properties by application as a gel, application as wound dressing, and direct application in a suspension.

Conclusion: Copper Nanoparticles (CuNPs) are the best candidate for treating pressure sores because of its antibacterial properties, lower cytotoxicity than harmful Silver (Ag), and lower cost than Ag or Gold (Au).