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Int J Nanomedicine. 2012;7:2767-81. doi: 10.2147/IJN.S24805. Epub 2012 Jun 6.

Antimicrobial applications of nanotechnology: methods and literature.

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Laboratory for Nanomedicine Research, School of Engineering, Brown University, Providence, RI 02917 , USA.


The need for novel antibiotics comes from the relatively high incidence of bacterial infection and the growing resistance of bacteria to conventional antibiotics. Consequently, new methods for reducing bacteria activity (and associated infections) are badly needed. Nanotechnology, the use of materials with dimensions on the atomic or molecular scale, has become increasingly utilized for medical applications and is of great interest as an approach to killing or reducing the activity of numerous microorganisms. While some natural antibacterial materials, such as zinc and silver, possess greater antibacterial properties as particle size is reduced into the nanometer regime (due to the increased surface to volume ratio of a given mass of particles), the physical structure of a nanoparticle itself and the way in which it interacts with and penetrates into bacteria appears to also provide unique bactericidal mechanisms. A variety of techniques to evaluate bacteria viability, each with unique advantages and disadvantages, has been established and must be understood in order to determine the effectiveness of nanoparticles (diameter ≤ 100 nm) as antimicrobial agents. In addition to addressing those techniques, a review of select literature and a summary of bacteriostatic and bactericidal mechanisms are covered in this manuscript.


antibacterial; bacteria; biofilm; nanomaterial; nanoparticle; nanotechnology

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