Scientists have found a way to package antimicrobial compounds from peppermint and cinnamon in tiny capsules that can both kill bacteria on chronic wounds and promote healing. Infectious colonies of bacteria called biofilms that develop on chronic wounds and medical devices can cause serious health problems and are tough to treat.The new material, reported in the journal ACS Nano, could be used as a topical antibacterial treatment and disinfectant.
Many bacteria clump together in sticky plaques in a way that makes them difficult to eliminate with the help of traditional antibiotics. Doctors sometimes recommend cutting out the infected tissues. This approach is costly, however, and because it is invasive, many patients opt out of treatment altogether.
Recently, essential oils and other natural compounds have emerged as alternative substances that can get rid of pathogenic bacteria, but researchers are not been able to translate their antibacterial activity into treatments.Vincent M. Rotello and his colleagues from department of biomedical and materials applications of nanosystems, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, wanted to address this issue.
The researchers packaged peppermint oil and cinnamaldehyde - the compound in cinnamon responsible for its flavour and aroma - into silica nanoparticles.The micro-capsule treatment was effective against four different types of bacteria, including one antibiotic-resistant strain. It also promoted growth of fibroblasts, a cell type that facilitates wound healing.