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Scientists cooking up silver oxide nanoparticles in a microwave

Scientists from Indian Institute of Technology Madras, Chennai and Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru have developed a novel complex made of silk fibroin (SF) with embedded silver oxide nanoparticles (Ag2O) for wound healing and anti-bacterial applications.

Silk has been used by humans for around 8500 years now for different uses. Apart from making expensive clothes, it has also found use as an improvised material for many medical applications including wound healing and reconstructive surgery, mainly due to its organic make-up and physical properties, like tensile strength. With the advent of nanotechnology, this ancient material has undergone several additions to make it an ideal material for many medical and industrial applications. The new study explores one such addition to silk to make it an anti bacterial material capable of healing wounds.

To prepare the silver oxide nanoparticles embedded silk fibroin spun, the scientists used microwaves to help the nanocrystals grow on the silk fibroin, a protein found in silk. Once the presence of silver oxide nanocrystals was confirmed using UV-Vis spectrometric analysis, where the spectrum produced by the material is examined with UV and visible light. The scientists also used a Scanning electron microscope and Differential scanning calorimetry to confirm the structure of the silver oxide embedded silk fibroin. Next an X-ray diffraction revealed the crystalline nature of the both the materials; the silk fibroins and silver oxide nanocrystals.

Once the composition of the composite material was confirmed, it was inserted into phosphate buffered saline (PBS) to study its biodegradation properties, where it showed insignificant changes even after 14 days. The combination of Ag2O and SF also showed excellent anti-bacterial activities, promptly acting against pathogens, like M. tuberculosis, and non-pathogens, like E-Coli. In vitro studies of its wound healing properties also revealed quick reactions from the material enabling fast migration of T3T fibroblast cells. “Cytotoxicity assay confirmed the biocompatible nature of the Ag2O-SF spuns, thus suggesting an ideal material for wound healing and anti-bacterial applications.” Exclaim the researchers.