This award by the Biomaterials program in the Division of Materials Research to University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is to carryout studies in nitric oxide (NO)-releasing silica nanomaterial-scaffolds that reduce dental biofilm formation via localized NO delivery. The rationale for pursuing this work is based on nitric oxide's central role in our body's immune response to pathogens, broad-spectrum antimicrobial activity, and rapid diffusion through biofilms. Silica nanomaterials allow for tunable properties such as NO storage, size and surface charge, and will enable the study of such properties on bactericidal activity and cytotoxicity. After determining the optimum particle properties for killing planktonic bacteria, the project will study the eradication of established biofilms. The research will establish new knowledge regarding the effects of nanomaterial properties on antibacterial activity. This project is expected in providing graduate and undergraduate students with experiences that interface materials science with microbiology through fundamental, transformative, and discovery research. In addition, this project will take advantage of the clear need for understanding nanoparticle-bacteria dynamics to engage underrepresented populations in science and engineering through the research activities.

Tooth decay due to bacteria plaque biofilms is a prevalent and costly health problem worldwide. Although substantial progress has been made through fluoride treatment of public water supplies and routine dental cleaning, tooth decay remains a significant problem requiring intense treatment. In 2006, dental care costs amounted to 7.4% of the total healthcare spending in the U.S. alone. In this proposal, the investigators seek to develop new bactericidal nanomaterials against plaque producing bacteria. This work aims to elucidate how the properties of the nanomaterial (e.g., size, charge, and nitric oxide release kinetics) influence its biocidal activity against plaque producing bacteria. The research is thus critical to the implementation of drug-releasing nanoparticles with maximum therapeutic efficacy. The proposed work will also have significant impact on students. In addition to providing students with research projects that enables training at the interface of material science, chemistry and microbiology, the research will be used to capture the attention of underrepresented populations in science and engineering through specialized research experiences.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Materials Research (DMR)
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Joseph A. Akkara
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University of North Carolina Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill
United States
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