SCIENCE SHORT

Probiotics offer prospect of cheap, eco-friendly nanoparticles

By Tim Cutcliffe contact

- Last updated on GMT

© iStock
© iStock

Related tags: Probiotic bacteria, Gut flora

The use of probiotics for the biosynthesis of metallic nanoparticles (MNPs) may offer a cheaper, more eco-friendly alternative to previous production methods, says a new review.

Probiotics are widely known for their use in dietary supplements, drinks and foods to help boost the population of beneficial bacteria in the gut. However, their use in the development of nanoparticles is less well recognised.

However, the review published in in Recent Patents on Drug Delivery and Formulation, ​suggests the use of biological materials such as probiotics could be be a more economic and eco-friendly means of future nanoparticle biosynthesis.

Previously, “the MNPs have been synthesised through several chemical and physical techniques, which have been found to be quite expensive and [a] few may pose environmental challenges​,” wrote corresponding author Professor Kamla Pathak from the Pharmacy College, Saifai, Uttar Pradesh University of Medical Sciences, India.

Multiple applications

The use of probiotic bacteria in synthesising MNPs has applications for bioactive delivery (including nutraceuticals), cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and biotechnology. 

The review found that gold and silver MNPs were the prime focus of interest, but various other metals and/ or their oxides were also investigated including zinc, copper, magnesium, tellurium and tungsten. Potential applications included anti-microbial, anti-fungal and chemotherapeutic uses.

“Gold NPs are suggested for drug delivery and treating lymphocytic leukaemia; silver and copper NPs for antimicrobial activity and zinc oxide NPs as anti-corrosive, antifungal and as an additive in food products such as breakfast cereals,”​ commented Pathak.

Individual studies and associated patents for nanoparticle synthesis used a diversity of species and strains of bacteria too numerous to mention individually. However, the bacterial genera Lactobacillus ​and Bifidobacterium​ were the most widely investigated.

The survey used a literature search to identify research and patent reports on MNPs biosynthesised using probiotic bacteria.  The search reviewed patents from the United States, the European Patent Office and World Intellectual Property Organisation.

“Use of probiotic bacteria in synthesizing metallic nanoparticles is an effective biosynthetic approach. However, the technique needs wider exploration for newer metallic/non-metallic/metalloid NPs for therapeutic applications,” ​she concluded.

Source: Recent Patents on Drug Delivery and Formulation
Volume 11, issue 1, pages 5-18, doi: 10.2174/1872211311666170313124335
“Probiotics as a Tool to Biosynthesize Metallic Nanoparticles: Research Reports and Patents Survey”
Authors:  Nida Akthar and Kamla Pathak

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