Adelaide researchers are looking at taking advantage of cacao as a natural alternative to toxic chemicals traditionally used to produce wound treatments. Silver ions and nanoparticles are known to fight bacteria, making it difficult for microorganisms to build effective resistance. But processes used to synthesise the ions and nanoparticles often use hazardous chemicals, sometimes causing more harm than good. A group of Adelaide researchers at the University of South Australia, led by Associate Professor Krasimir Vasilev, found cacao can be used as a substitute for the hazardous chemicals. “If you use toxic chemicals they will kill not only the bacteria, but also they would kill normal tissue, but basically you can get in a worse position than you started in,” Professor Vasilev said. “So if you avoid using this toxic chemical and substitute them with something that has beneficial effect to tissue, then naturally the wound healing will be much faster.” Professor Vasilev said cacao, which is usually used to make chocolate, contains a powerful reducing agent. “I was looking for alternative, eco-friendly and non-toxic ways to synthesize silver nanoparticles, and I found that cacao had been reported in literature for its anti-inflammatory and healing properties, so I thought what if we combine both? “It contains oxalic acid, which is a powerful reductive agent, so we used this to reduce silver nitrate and to synthesise the cacao-based silver nanoparticles, which we call chocolate silver nanoparticles.” Professor Vasilev said now that the study has found cacao can be used in silver nanoparticles synthesis, researchers will continue to look at potential applications in the field of biomedical nanotechnology.
ABC News, 21 September 2016 ;http://www.abc.net.au/news/ ;