Using Healing Plants and Lasers for Effective Germ-Killing Therapy

Greg Howard
29th March, 2024

Using Healing Plants and Lasers for Effective Germ-Killing Therapy

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Key Findings

  • Study at Islamic Azad University found plant extracts can kill antibiotic-resistant bacteria when activated by laser light
  • Hibiscus and cactus extracts were effective against harmful bacteria when combined with a specific laser wavelength
  • This PDI method could be a safer, resistance-free alternative to traditional antibiotics
In recent years, the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria has become a critical public health concern. Traditional antibiotics, once powerful weapons against infections, are losing their effectiveness as bacteria evolve and develop resistance to these drugs. This has prompted scientists to search for alternative treatments. One such innovation is Photodynamic Inactivation (PDI) technology, a method that uses light-sensitive compounds, known as photosensitizers, in combination with light to kill bacteria. A new study from the Islamic Azad University[1] has explored the potential of PDI technology as an alternative to antibiotics. Researchers have focused on the use of natural plant extracts as photosensitizers, which are activated by laser light to produce a bactericidal effect. Specifically, the study investigated the antibacterial properties of extracts from Hibiscus sabdariffa and Opuntia ficus-indica, when combined with low-level laser light at a wavelength of 532 nm. The study's findings are significant because they address a key challenge in PDI: finding effective photosensitizers that respond to specific wavelengths of light. The researchers prepared ethanolic extracts of the two plants and found that they exhibited strong antibacterial activity against two harmful bacteria: Acinetobacter baumannii and Staphylococcus aureus. These bacteria are known to cause severe infections in humans and are often resistant to multiple antibiotics. To evaluate the effectiveness of these natural photosensitizers, the researchers determined their Minimum Inhibitory Concentration (MIC) and Minimum Bactericidal Concentration (MBC). MIC is the lowest concentration of an antibacterial agent required to prevent visible growth of a bacterium, while MBC is the lowest concentration needed to kill a particular bacterium. Additionally, a time-killing assay was performed to assess the bactericidal rate in the absence and presence of laser irradiation. The study's results were promising, showing that the combination of low-level laser light and the selected plant extracts could effectively treat bacterial infections in vitro. This aligns with previous research[2] that highlighted the potential of PDT to treat infections without the development of bacterial resistance, a major advantage over traditional antibiotics. Furthermore, the study builds on earlier findings[3] that demonstrated the efficacy of antimicrobial photodynamic inactivation using curcumin, a natural compound, on biofilms of different microbial species. This suggests that natural substances can be potent photosensitizers, offering a diverse arsenal against infections. Additionally, the research supports the concept that PDI could be a less harmful alternative to conventional treatments. A previous study[4] showed that photodynamic therapy using blue light could reduce Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) on human tissue without damaging human cells. This is particularly relevant, as MRSA is a common and challenging infection in healthcare settings. The Islamic Azad University's investigation into PDI technology provides an exciting glimpse into the future of infection control. By harnessing the power of natural plant extracts and laser technology, scientists are opening a new frontier in the fight against antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The study suggests that with further research and development, PDI could become a mainstream treatment for bacterial infections, offering a safe, effective, and resistance-free alternative to antibiotics.

MedicineBiochemPlant Science


Main Study

1) Simultaneous effect of medicinal plants as natural photosensitizers and low-level laser on photodynamic inactivation.

Published 27th March, 2024

Related Studies

2) Photodynamic therapy: a new antimicrobial approach to infectious disease?

Journal: Photochemical & photobiological sciences : Official journal of the European Photochemistry Association and the European Society for Photobiology, Issue: Vol 3, Issue 5, May 2004

3) Photodynamic inactivation of a multispecies biofilm using curcumin and LED light.

4) Different photodynamic effects of blue light with and without riboflavin on methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and human keratinocytes in vitro.

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