It may be known as the key ingredient in chocolate but cacao could be part of a new and more environmentally friendly way to treat infection.
University researchers are looking to cacao to improve the efficacy of antibacterial nanoparticles.
These “silver nanoparticles” have been shown to have powerful antimicrobial effects and have been used effectively in medical instruments and bandages to reduce infection.
However, most conventional processes used to synthesise the particles rely on hazardous chemicals.
A group of University of South Australia School of Engineering researchers have proved that the natural cacao extract can be used instead of these chemicals, resulting in a potentially safer and cheaper process. “For centuries cacao has been believed to deliver beneficial properties. In this study, nanoparticles were synthesised using natural cacao extract as a reducing and stabilising agent, which we found had a substantial antibacterial effect,” Associate Professor Vasilev says.
“This means we have established a quick, easy, eco-friendly and reproducible alternative method for the synthesis of silver nanoparticles that opens opportunities for further research and potential applications in the field of biomedical nanotechnology.”
The team is now examining what other potential applications these ‘chocolate’ silver nanoparticles might have.
You can read more about this project here. Story credit: University of South Australia Media Centre
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