Researchers at Boston University in Massachusetts have finally managed to discover how bacteria are affected by silver, which has been used as an effective anti-microbial agent for more than 2,000 years.
Writing in their report, published in the journal Science Transitional Medicine, the researchers said that adding silver to the current generation of antibiotics can significantly boost their effectiveness against bacteria, including drug resistant bacteria.
The researchers, led by James Collins, found that silver attacks bacteria by making the cell membrane more permeable and also interfering with its metabolism that leads to overproduction of reactive, and often toxic, oxygen compounds. The researchers also said that adding silver to antibiotics can make them kill 10 to 1,000 times more bacteria.
"Resistance is growing, while the number of new antibiotics in development is dropping. We wanted to find a way to make what we have work better. It's not so much a silver bullet; more a silver spoon to help the Gram-negative bacteria take their medicine", Collins said.