Diatomaceous earth/zinc oxide micro-composite assisted antibiotics in fungal therapy

Huifang Liu, Zhen Qiao, Yoon Ok Jang, Myoung Gyu Kim, Qingshuang Zou, Hyo Joo Lee, Bonhan Koo, Sung Han Kim, Kyusik Yun, Hyun Soo Kim, Yong Shin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


As the second wave of COVID-19 hits South Asia, an increasing deadly complication ‘fungal infections (such as Mycosis, Candida and Aspergillus) outbreak’ has been raised concern about the insufficient technologies and medicals for its diagnosis and therapy. Biosilica based nano-therapy can be used for therapeutic efficacy, yet their direct role as antibiotic agent with biocompatibility and stability remains unclear. Here, we report that a diatomaceous earth (DE) framework semiconductor composite conjugated DE and in-house synthesized zinc oxide (DE-ZnO), as an antibiotic agent for the enhancement of antibiotic efficacy and persistence. We found that the DE-ZnO composite had enhanced antibiotic activity against fungi (A. fumigatus) and Gram-negative bacteria (E. coli, S. enterica). The DE-ZnO composite provides enhancing large surface areas for enhancement of target pathogen binding affinity, as well as produces active ions including reactive oxygen species and metal ion for breaking the cellular network of fungi and Gram-negative bacteria. Additionally, the toxicity of DE-ZnO with 3 time less amount of dosage is 6 times lower than the commercial SiO2-ZnO. Finally, a synergistic effect of DE-ZnO and existing antifungal agents (Itraconazole and Amphotericin B) showed a better antifungal activity, which could be reduced the side effects due to the antifungal agents overdose, than a single antibiotic agent use. We envision that this DE-ZnO composite can be used to enhance antibiotic activity and its persistence, with less-toxicity, biocompatibility and high stability against fungi and Gram-negative bacteria which could be a valuable candidate in medical science and industrial engineering.

Original languageEnglish
Article number32
JournalNano Convergence
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Dec

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by a Grant from the Korea Health Technology R & D Project through the Korea Health Industry Development Institute (KHIDI), funded by the Ministry of Health & Welfare (HI20C0073), also supported by the Korea Medical Device Development Fund grant funded by the Korea government (Project Number: HW20C2062), and also supported by the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning (MSIP) through the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) (2020R1A2C2007148).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s).

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Engineering(all)


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