Graphene may treat spectrum of disease
Could impact fight of bacterial, viral, and fungal infections Metal Tech News – December 30, 2020
Last updated 12/29/2020 at 4:50pm
Graphene has emerged as a powerful antimicrobial that can prevent the spread of bacteria and viruses when added to masks, paints, sports gear, and other products. Now, initial tests by a leading infectious disease specialist in Canada indicate that a graphene-based compound may be able to treat a broad spectrum of pathogens that make it past the first lines of defense and into the human body.
This graphene-based antibiotic, antiviral, and antifungal compound developed by Ontario-based Zen Graphene Solutions Ltd. is proving to be a potential medical breakthrough in the treatment of numerous human-contracted pathogens such as upper and lower respiratory tract infections – where COVID-19 is a major contributor – as well as drug resistant organisms.
"This broad-spectrum compound is a novel solution that could have an impact on infectious disease management. It has the potential to act as a targeted treatment for multi-drug resistant organisms as well," said Zen Graphene Solutions CEO Greg Fenton. "As in previously released results on the effectiveness of a similar compound against COVID-19, this graphene-based treatment could be against viral infections. We will be exploring its use not only in the fight against the current global pandemic, but also against numerous other pathogens."
What makes this discovery particularly exciting is that graphene is simply a single layer of carbon atoms, a primary element of human physiology.
Testing carried out by Dr. Tony Mazzulli, microbiologist-in-chief and infectious disease specialist at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto and professor in two medicine and pathobiology departments at the University of Toronto, shows that a small dose of the graphene-based powder is 99.9% effective against a broad range of bacteria responsible for strep and staph infections, as well as E. coli, flu, and pneumonia. The compound has also been shown to be 99.9% effective against certain yeast infections.
"This graphene compound appears to be active against both gram positive (e.g., Streptococci and Staphylococci) and gram negative (e.g., E. coli, H. influenzae, M. catarrhalis) bacteria as well as common yeast (e.g., Candida albicans) at extremely low concentrations. These results are promising," said Dr. Mazzulli. "Additional testing against a broader range of bacterial species is required to determine the full spectrum of activity of this GC (graphene compound)."
The amount of this compound needed to fight bacterial, fungal, and yeast infections is low enough that it could be used as a treatment inside the human body.
"The relatively low concentrations of GC required to achieve an antimicrobial effect is also promising," said Dr. Mazzulli. "Although one cannot directly compare the MICs (minimum inhibitory concentrations) of different compounds to determine their relative efficacy, the extremely low concentrations of this GC show an effect well below the concentration required of commonly used antibiotics to show a similar effect. These concentrations are also in keeping with concentrations that have been shown to have an antiviral effect of this GC as well."
Zen Graphene said delivery mechanisms like a dry powder inhaler or nasal spray may prove to be a highly effective delivery system for this emerging infection fighting compound. In addition to avoiding the need to ingest or be injected with a dose, an inhaler or nasal spray would maximize concentrations of the 2D carbon material directly at the site of respiratory tract infections.
The company is currently having testing done to confirm that the graphene compound it has developed is not toxic to cells and thus safe for medical use. Results from the initial rounds of this cytotoxicity testing show no negative impacts to animals given graphene compound concentrations several thousand times higher than found to be effective in treating infectious disease during testing at Mount Sinai Hospital.
A second phase of cytotoxicity testing is slated to get underway in early 2021, with repeat dose testing completed by late-January.
Once this testing is complete, the company will seek approvals for human testing of the compound.
Following the recommendations of Dr. Mazzulli, Zen Graphene says it is also carrying out tests to determine the graphene-based compound's effectiveness in fighting the full spectrum of pathogens.
The infectious disease specialist believes the graphene compound could provide game-changing treatments for a broad range of ailments.
"In the clinical setting, if GC can be shown to be safe and effective, it could provide a breakthrough alternative therapy with potentially significant impact on the practice of family medicine (who initially see most of these common infections) but also in the fields of otolaryngology (diseases of the ear and throat), ophthalmology (diseases of the eye), and even in the intensive care unit where MDR (multi-drug resistant) organisms are a major challenge for treatment," Dr. Mazzulli penned in the conclusion of his report.
The results from the latest round of graphene compound testing could also have major implications for preventing the spread of disease. Previous tests have already shown that polypropylene mask material treated with a graphene-based ink developed by Zen is 99% effective at killing the COVID-19 virus. The Mount Sinai Hospital testing indicates the graphene ink's effectiveness against a broader spectrum of disease-causing microbes.
"Consistent with our recently announced graphene-based compound for treating human-contracted pathogens, we have also confirmed that it is greater than 99% effective against gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria," said Fenton. "This demonstrates that our coating on masks and other personal protective equipment has potential broad biocidal properties and applications that we believe will go far beyond protection against COVID-19."