Dr. Wiley Youngs, UA distinguished professor of chemistry (top), joined with Dr. Yang Yun, UA assistant professor of biomedical engineering (above) and Dr. Carolyn Cannon, co-director of the Cystic Fibrosis Center, Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, to invent a new antibiotic treatment option for pulmonary infections.
Research on a new antibiotic treatment option for pulmonary infections including pneumonia and cystic fibrosis, developed at The University of Akron and Washington University School of Medicine, has potential for significantly increasing survival among patients with lung infections.
The nanoparticle antibiotic treatment is composed of encapsulated silver carbene complexes, or SCCs (a novel class of silver-based antimicrobials), developed by Dr. Wiley Youngs, UA distinguished professor of chemistry, with collaborators Dr. Yang Yun, UA assistant professor of biomedical engineering who developed the nanoparticle delivery system, and Dr. Carolyn Cannon, co-director of the Cystic Fibrosis Center, Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. The research team presented notable, treatment-related increases in survival in a mouse pneumonia model at the American Thoracic Society 2009 International Conference in San Diego on May 19.
The concentrated nanoparticles are administered once daily. According to the researchers, these nebulized antimicrobials epitomize effective and convenient drug delivery that encourages patient compliance with the treatment regimen, ensuring successful reduction of patients’ illness severity, limiting development of resistance to antibiotics and potentially decreasing the spread of epidemics.
Although all of the untreated animals died, treatment with aerosolized, nano-sized, silver-based antibiotics allowed survival of 100 percent of mice inoculated with Pseudomona aeroginosa, a common bacteria that infects the respiratory tract in humans, especially those who are immunocompromised, on mechanical ventilatory support or afflicted with cystic fibrosis. Treatment with the SCC-loaded nanoparticles also minimized weight loss and the bacteria burden in the lung and reduced the spread of bacteria from the lung through the blood stream to the spleen.
The team’s collaboration began in 2004 when Cannon approached Youngs with an inquiry about testing SCCs for their effectiveness in treating a resistant Burkholderia strain that had infected several cystic fibrosis patients in Boston. Youngs sent Cannon a methylated caffeine silver acetate compound (SCC1), which he developed at UA. The compound proved highly effective against Burkholderia dolosa and every other bacteria strain tested to date. The uniqueness of these compounds is related to their broad-spectrum activity, according to the researchers. In 2007, SCCs were encapsulated into nanoparticles with the help of Yun. This allowed their extended release formulation.
Youngs and his UA research team are embarking upon commercialization of their technology through a University of Akron Research Foundation startup venture known as Akron Research Commercialization Corp. Their first product offering —Silvamist™ — will soon be under application process with the FDA for Investigational New Drug status. Also, UA has established the Center for Silver Therapeutics Research, headquartered at the university as an academic and industry center for continued research and development of silver-based pharmaceutical candidates.
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