The germicidal properties of silver have been exploited since the early Mediterranean cultures. Since 1000 BC, and possibly earlier, water that was kept in silver vessels, and then exposed to light and filtered, could be rendered potable. Silver was also used throughout the centuries for various other applications, including coatings in silver plates, and foils used in the surgical treatments of wounds and broken bones. The use of silver on chronic wounds dates back to the 17th and 18th centuries. In the early 19th century, silver nitrate began to be used on burns and in ophthalmology. Concentrations of the solution ranged from 0.2 to 2.5% with the weaker solutions being reserved for children.
Silver has been found to be active against a wide range of bacterial, fungal and viral pathogens. Topical treatment of acute and chronic wounds is a preferred and selective approach to the prevention of infection and the stimulation of healing. In order to achieve these requirements, products that are used in the prevention of infections must have certain physical and chemical properties. One of the most widely used topical antimicrobial materials, along with silver nitrate, is silver sulfadiazine. Silver sulfadiazine has been used in treatments of burns and leg ulcers and as a topical antimicrobial agent in the management of infected wounds.
Over the past 20 years, several topical dressings containing silver have been developed for wound care. These dressings were designed with the intent of providing a reservoir of silver to the wound, reducing the pain associated with traditional silver treatments (silver sulfadiazine cream, for example, must be manually removed prior to reapplication), and decreasing the amount of nursing time spent on dressing changes. Antimicrobial silver dressings were, and continue to be, significantly more expensive than the traditional treatments. However, a number of clinicians began reporting improved clinical outcomes in wounds treated with some of the silver products. This in turn has led to a resurgence of interest in the science of silver for wound care therapy.
There has also been a high interest in preventing the spread of infections in non-wound care related settings. Increased awareness of the problems associated with antibiotic-resistant bacteria, health and safety regulations, and the growing number of hygiene conscious individuals are all factors contributing to the high interest in the disinfectant/cleaning markets. There is also rising pressure to have effective agents that are also environmentally safe.
Silver has shown no signs of anything becoming resistant to it and has been proven extremely effective in killing HIV, Norovirus, MRSA, VRE, Influenza, Rhinovirus, E. Coli, Salmonella, Staphylococcus and Streptococcus bacteria.
Silver based agents are well positioned to become the leading choice for safe, fast, effective and environmentally friendly products and Exciton is well poised to be a part of both the wound care and disinfectant industries with the goal of preventing and controlling infection through its patented silver technology portfolio.