OCT 24, 2018 7:39 PM PDT

Silver Nanoparticles Coat Anti-seizure Drugs To Combat Brain-Eating Amoebae

WRITTEN BY: Nouran Amin

Since Halloween is around the corner, it is science-fiction season and some may choose to celebrate by watching movies featuring brain-eating zombies. However, what is frightening than the fictional brain-eating zombie is the realistic brain-eating amoebas, the parasites that feed on the human brain and much more challenging to destroy than their horror-movie counterparts.

Fortunately, a recent report published in ACS Chemical Neuroscience has shown that the development of silver nanoparticles coated with anti-seizure drugs can eradicate the brain-eating amoebae while sparing human cells.

The brain-eating amoebae--Naegleria fowleri—rarely cause infections but when they do, they’re are fatal. Many cases of reported infections are due from inhaling warm, dirty water in ponds, hot springs or unchlorinated swimming pools. Additionally, another amoeba species--Acanthamoeba castellanii—will cause blindness by entering the eyes via dirty contact lenses. Most common treatments of amoeba infections include antimicrobial drugs, despite the severe side effects of the high doses needed for them to enter the brain.

Researchers were curious if three particular anti-seizure drugs -- diazepam, phenobarbitone and phenytoin – which have already been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, may actually be effective drug targets to eradicate the amoebae either alone or in combination with silver nanoparticles.

Since these drugs are known to cross the blood-brain barrier, it was reasoned that they might be of high efficacy when attached to silver nanoparticles. The nanoparticle will work to improve the delivery of some drugs while having their own antimicrobial effects.

After chemically attaching the drugs to the silver nanoparticles, the researchers examined their ability to kill amoebae. The results they found showed that each of the three drugs alone could kill N. fowleri and A. castellanii, however, the drugs were more effective when bound to silver nanoparticles.

'Brain-Eating Amoeba' Image via WebMD

The drug-nanoparticle combination provided a protection from microbes to the human cells and increased the survival rate in comparison to the untreated infected human cells. It is hypothesized, by the researchers, that the re-purposing of the anti-seizure drugs coated by the silver nanoparticles can kill the amoebae via its membrane by binding to protein receptors or ion channels.

Source: ACS Chemical Neuroscience, ScienceDaily

About the Author
  • Nouran earned her BS and MS in Biology at IUPUI and currently shares her love of science by teaching. She enjoys writing on various topics as well including science & medicine, global health, and conservation biology. She hopes through her writing she can make science more engaging and communicable to the general public.
You May Also Like
MAY 21, 2020
Drug Discovery & Development
MAY 21, 2020
Molecular 'Switch' Makes Autoimmune Drugs Fight Cancer
Researchers from the Antibody and Vaccine Group at the University of Southampton, England, have identified a way to repu ...
MAY 28, 2020
Drug Discovery & Development
MAY 28, 2020
Trial for Arthritis Drug with Remdesivir to Beat COVID-19
Montefiore Health System and Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York have teamed up to see how well remdesivir, ...
JUN 08, 2020
Cancer
JUN 08, 2020
Using Soft Tissue Sarcoma's Immune Defense as a Biomarker
Programmed cell death protein 1 (PD-1) has been a big player in the treatment of both autoimmune disease and cancer. PD- ...
JUN 13, 2020
Cannabis Sciences
JUN 13, 2020
CBD Kills Brain Cancer Cells in Petri Dish
Cannabis products are not only popular for their psychoactive effects. An increasing number of companies and researchers ...
JUN 26, 2020
Cancer
JUN 26, 2020
Combining Treatments to Improve Acute Myeloid Leukemia Therapy
Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is a type of blood cancer that prevents the complete maturation of stem cells. These immatu ...
JUN 25, 2020
Cannabis Sciences
JUN 25, 2020
Can CBD Oil Treat Eczema?
Around 30% of Americans are affected by eczema, a common condition known to cause dry skin, itching, irritation, and inf ...
Loading Comments...