A silver nanoparticle-based drug developed by Tomsk Polytechnic University (TPU) scientists and their Mexican partners has recently been tested in Mexico for the treatment of a lethal and contagious disease in shrimp — a white spot syndrome virus (WSSV). The study revealed that after administration of the drug, the survival rate of infected shrimp was 80 percent. Further, the drug might significantly help marine farmers in Mexico to fight the virus.
“Shrimp form a substantial part of export in Mexico. They are supplied across the world and most of them are sent to the U.S.A. and Europe. White spot syndrome virus is a scourge for Mexican marine farmers. Its epidemic has already lasted for some years, killing millions of individuals. A visible manifestation of the virus is emerging white spots on a shrimp’s shell. An infected individual is [weakened] and dies. Humans are immune to this virus but it causes great losses in the aquaculture industry,” says Professor Alexey Pestryakov, head of the Department of Physical and Analytical Chemistry.
Previously, several attempts were made to treat this disease. However, there was no effective cure. Then, one marine farm offered to test the TPU development.
Argovit made of silver nanoparticles features a versatile destroying effect against viruses, bacteria, and fungi. A university partner, the Vektor-Vita company in Novosibirsk, uses the pharmaceutical to produce veterinary medications for animals and biologically active additives for humans. Scientists from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) and the National Institute for Agricultural and Food Research and Technology (INIA, Spain) are involved in the development of Argovit-based preparations as well.
“Silver nanoparticles (AgNPs) are the most widely used nanomaterials in commercial products due to their beneficial antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties. In the aquaculture industry, nanotechnology has been poorly applied,” says Alexey Petryakov.
At first, the drug was administrated to a few juvenile shrimp infected with WSSV. The results revealed that the survival rate of WSSV-infected shrimp after silver nanoparticle-based drug administration was over 90 percent.
Then, the scientists tested a larger group of infected shrimp. They were divided into subgroups, some of which received the drug and others which did not.
The results revealed that the survival rate of WSSV-infected shrimps after AgNP administration was 80 percent, whereas the survival rate of untreated organisms was only 10 percent after 96 hours of infection. The scientists published their outcomes in the Chemosphere.
At present, Argovit has been tested for 25 diseases. According to the authors, it has already proven its effectiveness in veterinary applications and passed clinical tests in Russia and abroad.
“Our medications have all the necessary certificates and are applied in veterinary. Veterinarians use it for the treatment of viral and bacterial diseases in cattle, fur animals and pets,” says Pestryakov. “Existing antiviral drugs affect viruses indirectly, mainly increasing the patient’s immunity, not killing them directly. Argovit is aimed at killing viruses. The immunity increases too. A competitive edge of the drug is its hypoallergenicity and low toxicity in therapeutic doses. In contrast to antibiotics, it does not cause allergic reactions, stomach disorders, and other unpleasant side effects, while it kills bacteria and fungi.
Argovit is an aqueous solution, 20 percent of which is a complex of silver nanoparticles with polymer stabilizer in sizes varying from 1 to 70 nanometers. Such medications are much cheaper than antibiotics and have a longer shelf life (up to two years in the refrigerator) in comparison with their counterparts.