Phage-mimicking antibacterial core–shell nanoparticles†
The increasing frequency of nosocomial infections caused by antibiotic-resistant microorganisms concurrent with the stagnant discovery of new classes of antibiotics has made the development of new antibacterial agents a critical priority. Our approach is an antibiotic-free strategy drawing inspiration from bacteriophages to combat antibiotic-resistant bacteria. We developed a nanoparticle-based antibacterial system that structurally mimics the protein-turret distribution on the head structure of certain bacteriophages and explored a combination of different materials arranged hierarchically to inhibit bacterial growth and ultimately kill pathogenic bacteria. Here, we describe the synthesis of phage-mimicking antibacterial nanoparticles (ANPs) consisting of silver-coated gold nanospheres distributed randomly on a silica core. The silver-coating was deposited in an anisotropic fashion on the gold nanospheres. Structurally, our nanoparticles mimicked the bacteriophages of the family Microviridae by up to 88%. These phage-mimicking ANPs were tested for bactericidal efficacy against four clinically relevant nosocomial pathogens (Staphylococcus aureus USA300, Pseudomonas aeruginosa FRD1, Enterococcus faecalis, and Corynebacterium striatum) and for biocompatibility with skin cells. Bacterial growth of all four bacteria was inhibited (21% to 90%) as well as delayed (by up to 5 h). The Gram-positive organisms were shown to be more sensitive to the nanoparticle treatment. Importantly, the phage-mimicking ANPs did not show any significant cytotoxic effects against human skin keratinocytes. Our results indicate the potential for phage-mimicking antimicrobial nanoparticles as a highly effective, alternative antibacterial agent, which may be suitable for co-administration with existing available formulations.