Copper Nanoparticle Pills?

Using high-affinity particulate coating on copper particles as an in vivo antimicrobial agent. Coating can be an antibiotic for attraction, followed by copper interior killing the microbes. Applications: no 'drug resistance' issues arise, very potent, relatively inexpensive materials, and other potential pharmaceutical applications (pills).

Go to the profile of Michel Kiflen
Feb 03, 2016
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Hello, I'm not sure how this website works or where to post new ideas that we could have, but I figured this network is a good place. A few weeks ago, our university, Ryerson (Toronto, ON) started a competition (research challenge) in which students are to come up with any idea related to the advancement of synthetic biology.

To introduce ourselves, we are biomedical and biology major undergraduate students at Ryerson University interested in medical microbiology. For the challenge, we sought to create a capsule that uses the antimicrobial properties of copper as a cidal agent for infectious bacteria in the GI tract. The capsule has fine copper particles that are coated with an antibiotic.

Copper surfaces are antimicrobial, and we are interested in using this property inside humans (or mammals). Since it would be ineffective to swallow large pieces of copper, nanoparticles, or fine copper particles with their high surface area were chosen instead. To combat the problem that infectious bacteria wouldn't interact the copper naturally, the surface of the copper is coated with a molecule that is recognizable by the microbes. Primarily, we were thinking antibiotics since it would prevent the host's cells from dying, but target the infectious ones. This way, the even resistant cells would try to metabolize the antibiotics, however, the copper atoms underneath would attack these cells.

Go to the profile of Michel Kiflen

Michel Kiflen

Molecular Microbiology Research Scientist, Ryerson University

I'm a student at Ryerson University, Toronto, studying biomedical science.

5 Comments

Go to the profile of Krishnam Patel
Krishnam Patel over 1 year ago

Hi, I'm one of the team members working with Michel. We thought this idea was unique since there an antibiotic coating. Hence, the susceptible bacteria would die from the drug, while the resistant forms would die from the copper. Many forms of bacteria would die from the copper, while leaving the host's cells unharmed.

Go to the profile of Andrew Jermy
Andrew Jermy over 1 year ago

Hi Michel (and Krishnam),

Thanks for posting - I'd love to hear more about the competition in general too, sounds like a great learning exercise.

On the specific idea, I will leave it to others with more specific expertise in antimicrobial to comment in detail but I would say that you are certainly not alone in proposing to investigate the use of the antimicrobial properties of metals as new therapeutic avenues (see this review I commissioned for NRMicro a few years baack before I left: http://www.nature.com/nrmicro/journal/v11/n6/abs/nrmicro3028.html). Coating Cu nanoparticles with antibiotics is not a strategy that I remember coming across previously but certainly there has been thought about use in combination therapies to get that 'double hit'. Presumably the Cu nano-particle part of the proposed therapy would have a broad spectrum activity and so would also hit the microbiota as well - many existing antibiotics do the same, so this would necessarily be a killer problem, but off target impacts of antibiotics have been suggested to have a role in chronic diseases.

Anyway, keep us updated on the competitions' progress and good luck!

Go to the profile of Janusan Baskararajah
Janusan Baskararajah over 1 year ago

Hi, I am also working with Krishnam and Michel on this idea, Thanks for the link, it is a great start to what we are working on, and we will definitely be looking more into. On the regards of the actual competition, it is run by a student body, and it started as a sort of "case study" for sciences. If we do win, we get time in the lab to continue our work.

Go to the profile of Andrew Jermy
Andrew Jermy over 1 year ago

Thanks Janusan - fingers crossed.

Just read my reply back again and must apologise for the typo's - it was pretty early in the morning but that is no excuse. One in particular altered my intending meaning: "so this would necessarily be a killer problem" should have read " so this would NOT necessarily be a killer problem". Hopefully you picked that up from the context anyway...

Go to the profile of Michel Kiflen
Michel Kiflen over 1 year ago

Thanks Andrew for link and and the extra info - helped us out a lot!

So after speaking to a few more people, I thought I should post a first update: We decided to coat the copper particles with antibodies that correspond to a specific bacterial receptors to promote the adhesion between the two. Additionally, we are trying to determine the smallest particle size that would not be absorbed by the GI tract, just pass though. This way, the copper toxicity issue can be overcome; the body would naturally discard the copper once it's function is fulfilled.

We are also drafting a preliminary proposal for the competition.