Antibiotic resistant bacteria strains have come into focus in recent years; these bacteria are unable to be treated by normal antibiotics and have resulted in an increase in the number of mortalities by infectious diseases for the first time in decades. The antibiotic properties of gallium have been studied in recent years. Bacterial cells require iron to function; gallium, which has very similar ionic size and charge, travels through the body by the same mechanisms (i. e. siderophores) and is delivered to the cell by the same uptake pathways. Gallium attacks the cell by a “Trojan horse” method: it takes the place of iron in the metabolic pathway of the cell, but since it does not possess iron’s redox properties, gallium cannot do iron’s job, and the cell is forced to undergo apoptosis (programmed self-death). Gallium has also been shown to penetrate biofilms, self-produced matrices created by bacteria to protect themselves. Gallium was utilized in therapy as Ganite®, a gallium nitrate solution; however, 12.5% of patients had renal failure because gallium precipitated as gallium hydroxide and prevented proper kidney function. Our plan is to utilize gallium cysteinate nanoparticles to kill antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa that will not cause aggregation and kidney death. In addition, properties of a copper-bound gallium cysteinate nanoparticle in these therapies will be explored.
Dr. Songping Huang
Infections caused by antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria have been on the rise in recent years due to overuse of conventional antibiotic drugs. Development of novel ways to combat these bacteria is essential to ensure the continuing health of the world population. We will test a gallium cysteinate nanoparticle for its ability to kill these antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria, utilizing gallium’s already studied antibiotic properties due to its similarities to the essential metal iron. We will also investigate the possibility of utilizing a copper-bound gallium cysteinate nanoparticle in these applications.