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As mentioned earlier, because of their metallic properties and many
biological uses, silver nanoparticles seem to be making a foothold in the
medical field. The silver nanoparticles could potentially be used for a variety
of medical uses including disease treatment for complex diseases such as Lyme disease,
disease detection, and cancer treatment. However, this is only scratching the surface
with silver nanoparticle research. There is still the problem of synthesizing the
nanoparticles in an effective manner. But based on the experiments stated earlier,
it seems like we are one step closer by using organic processes to synthesize nanoparticles.
With the advancements being made towards their synthetization, it may not be long
before someone could walk into a doctor’s office and their life benefits from one
of the countless uses silver nanoparticles could be utilized for.


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First, they had created
different solutions that would give different percentages of silver
nanoparticles on the surface of the rice straw particles. This was done adding
rice straw to 2 M urea. Next, silver nitrate salt and sodium hydroxide were
added to the rice straw and urea solutions. By combining urea, silver nitrate
salt, and sodium hydroxide with rice straw, the researchers were able to
separate the unreacted silver ions from the silver nanoparticles while keeping the
silver nanoparticles attached to the rice straw particles. With this study, the
researchers had found that the silver nanoparticles formed different shapes and
gave different wavelengths when UV-visible spectroscopy is applied. This is
important because the strength of their physical properties can change based on
how they are made, what size they are, and their formation. For example, as
mentioned before, the silver nanoparticles can be “tagged” for disease
detection. However, this could also be accomplished by changing the size of the
nanoparticles. The researchers had proven that by manipulating the way the
silver nanoparticles are made, we can alter their shapes, and therefore, how
they are detected.

Another study (Khandanlou,
2016) conducted used rice straw, an abundantly made byproduct of rice
manufacturing, to create silver nanocomposites. The researchers had decided to
use rice straw to help reduce the amount of rice straw that goes to landfills
or are burned. They also felt like it is a more environmentally friendly and
cheaper synthetization process. Why not use something that no one else uses to
make a product? The overall goal of this team’s research was to prove that
silver nanoparticles could be made using inexpensive resources, which would be
critical with the increase usage of silver nanoparticles. However, unlike the
previous two experiments conducted, this project was trying to make
nanocomposites instead of nanoparticles. Nanocomposites are a combination of
two or more different types of nanoparticles whereas “nanoparticles” is a term
that usually means just one type. This experiment is a little bit different
than the experiments mentioned previously because those had silver
nanoparticles suspended in solution. In this case, silver nanoparticles were
created on the rice straw particles. A piece of printer paper with ink on it is
a great example of the role of the rice particles is. The rice particles are
acting as the “printer paper” and the silver nanoparticles are the ink.

Another study had synthesized
silver nanoparticles by using Schizophyllum
radiatum, or white rot fungus (Gudikandula, 2015). The team had grown their
own S. radiatum inside the lab by
using a malt glucose broth. They allowed the fungus to grow in the broth for
five days. They then filtrated the fungus from the broth it was suspended in. They
added 1 mM silver nitrate to the cultured fungus. This mixture was allowed to
incubate for 24 hours. Like with the study previously discussed, the
researchers noted that the presence of silver nanoparticles could be
qualitatively detected by the color change of the solution. Interestingly,
their solution had turned brown also. This team of researchers had used two
different methods to verify the presence of silver nanoparticles: UV-visible
spectroscopy and scanning electron microscopy. The UV-visible spectroscopy was
used on the fungus sample and the wavelength range the researchers focused on
was between 350 nm to 470 nm. The researchers found that the maximum peak on
the graph was 420 nm. They had said that this proved that the silver nitrate
added was reduced by the fungus sample. They had used the scanning electron
microscopy after they had purified the silver nanoparticles from the fungus
sample to evaluate the size and shape of the silver nanoparticles that were
produced. Similar to the study previously mentioned, this research had proven
that silver nanoparticles could be produced organically but this time by using
fungi. However, this team went farther with their process and had proven that
the silver nitrate used to make the silver nanoparticles had been reduced after
it was added to the fungus. In addition, they were also able to determine the
size and makeup of the silver nanoparticles produced.

The most common way to
synthesize silver nanoparticles usually involves organic methods. Organic
methods of synthesizing are thought to be more environmentally friendly than
the inorganic methods. From the papers I have looked at, it appears that silver
nanoparticles can be organically produced in a variety of ways. A more common
way involves plants. According to one study (Jafari, 2015), the silver nanoparticles were synthesized using the
Marshmallow flowers, thyme, and pennyroyal plants. They had made dilute
solutions from each plant by combining dried plant leaves, deionized water, and
1 mM silver nitrate. They had then heated the solutions to 62ºC and held them at this temperature for 15 minutes.
They had proven the synthesis of the silver nanoparticles by using transmission
electron microscopy (TEM). However, the researchers had also noted that the
formation of the silver nanoparticles could qualitatively be proven based on
the color change the solutions underwent after they were heated and allowed to
cool to room temperature. The solutions were completely colorless before they
were heated. After the solutions were heated for 15 minutes, the solutions
turned a brown color while they were cooling. This study had proven that silver
nanoparticles could be produced organically with the help of plants.

Synthesizing Silver Nanoparticles:

While the logistics of using
silver nanoparticles for the uses mentioned are looking more promising, there
are still potential problems to consider. First, extensive research will need
to be done to determine the absorption and distribution in the body, how they
are metabolized, and excretion of the silver nanoparticles from the body.  Another concern is how the silver
nanoparticles themselves or their synthesis process could impact the
environment. A major concern is silver leaching into the environment and
wildlife, especially aquatic organisms since their biological systems tend to
be very delicate and the slightest change in their habitat could cause
irreversible damage.

The metal properties of
silver nanoparticles are also being investigated to see if they could
potentially be used for the treatment of cancer. Specifically, researchers are
looking into using silver nanoparticles’ dipole-moment and electronegative
properties. An example of current research for a potential treatment is the use
of silver nanoparticles with an alternating magnetic current. The proposed
treatment includes injecting the silver nanoparticles into the body. The
cancerous cells would then uptake the nanoparticles. Just like with the cells
of bacteria, this is due to their slightly positive charge. The nanoparticles
would be attracted to the slightly negative charge of the cancer cells’
membranes. An alternating magnetic current would be applied to the patient
during their treatment session. The alternating current would pull on the
magnetic cores of the silver nanoparticles and cause them to move back and
forth within the cell. Friction is made by the silver particles moving and causes
thermal energy to buildup in the cell. The thermal energy produced would
denature the proteins of the cancer cells and prevent them from duplicating and
performing properly. The proteins of a cell contain every piece of information
that tells the organelles of the cell what to do. If the proteins don’t
function correctly, the cell will die because the rest of the cell won’t be
able to carry out its normal functions. Another benefit from using silver
nanoparticles for cancer treatment is that the cancer cells would not be able
to get rid of them. If the cancer cells did happen to duplicate in between
treatments, the daughter cells would contain some of silver nanoparticles. This
would be useful for more complex cancers.

Besides treating infections,
silver nanoparticles can also be used to help detect diseases. For example,
dyes used for bioimaging are usually organic and begin break down as soon as it
hits the bloodstream of the patient. This process, called “photobleaching”,
makes it difficult to accurately detect all areas of the body that is being
affected by the disease. With silver nanoparticles, these dyes can last much
longer in the body and can even be tagged with different colors to track their
movement. This can be used to help track the progression of a disease and what
parts of the body it is affecting for longer periods of time.

One of the more common
examples of silver nanoparticles in today’s medicine is silver sulfadiazine. The
very low concentration of silver in the medicine is effective against
gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria. This means that silver nanoparticles
can be used to treat various types of bacterial infections whereas antibiotics
may only be able to treat a specific type of bacteria. Also, since the silver
nanoparticles are slightly positively charged, they are pulled in by the
slightly negatively charged cell membrane of the bacteria. The silver
nanoparticles can then alter the bacteria’s cell wall, block the cellular
respiration, electron exchange, and alter the bacterium’s DNA. These mechanisms
can then induce cell death of the bacteria. This could potentially be useful
for treating complex diseases, such as Lyme disease. These patients usually
suffer from multiple infections at once. By using silver nanoparticles,
multiple infections could be treated at once without accidentally contributing
to the rise in antibiotic resistant bacteria. Because the silver nanoparticles
rely on charge difference to enter the cell membrane, there is a low
probability that the bacteria would be able to become resistant to the

Silver Nanoparticles in Medicine:

The purpose of this paper is
to explore the usage of silver nanoparticles in medicine today, how they work,
and some pros and cons for each usage. Specifically, this paper focuses on how
silver nanoparticles work as an antibiotic and antiviral component, a treatment
for more complex diseases, and cancer treatment. We will also discuss some
synthesis techniques that have been used to produce silver nanoparticles and
some ways that they were verified in the lab.

When someone hears the
word  “nanoparticles” they usually think
of tiny robots that are used to make objects or maybe a  super small computer that can be used to
build various types of technology. However, most people are unaware of the
advances of nanoparticles and their usage in other areas of life, such as
medicine. In fact, silver has been used throughout history as an antibacterial
agent, water purifier, burn treatment, and more. It was a highly effective
wound treatment but was also highly toxic at higher concentrations. Aside from
argyria, which is where the skin became blue when silver was applied, other
symptoms included stomach problems, convulsions, and even death. Once
antibiotics were discovered, the usage of silver declined. However, with the
advancement of technology, we are now able to use minute amounts of silver
where there is just enough to be effective but not too much to cause toxic side
effects such as gastrointestinal problems. By using nanoparticles, we are able
to get the same benefits as using high doses of silver that had been used as a
form of treatment for centuries, but at much lower concentrations.


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