With strong evidence from exploratory research supporting that certain natural clay minerals are effective antimicrobial agents, this research will examine the geological environment controlling formation and stability of antibacterial mineral deposits and further explore the antibacterial mechanism. The primary goal is to delineate the scientific basis by which natural clay minerals are able to kill bacteria and promote healing, therefore validating the use of natural clays as an economical treatment for bacterial infections.
A detailed field map of antibacterial minerals in one deposit will be constructed to identify antibacterial zones. The mineralogy of this deposit will be compared to other antibacterial clay samples worldwide, with statistical analysis used to identify the principal components in common. Antibacterial testing of the identified mineralogical/geochemical components will be performed on Gram-negative and Gram-positive bacteria representative of common infectious diseases.
The results could have broad-reaching applications in topical antimicrobial dressings; wound care management, personal care, and animal care markets. Using a variety of geochemical, mineralogical and microbiological approaches to assess the mineral-microbe interactions, our results will provide insights to the chemical conditions controlling the mineral induced bactericide. Finally, we will use ultra-high resolution (50nm) ion imaging (NanoSIMS) to show where biomolecules within a single cell are being altered by bactericidal reactions. These results may lead to new designs for controlling antibiotic-resistant infections and diseases for which there are no known therapeutic agents.