Preliminary Evaluation of Natural Antibacterial Clays for Treating Wound Infections

Lynda B. Williams, Suzannah M. Schmidt-Malan, Robin Patel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The overuse of antibiotics in medicine has led to concerns over management of wound infections where antibiotic-resistant bacteria are involved. Wound infections exhibit both acquired and biofilm-associated antibiotic resistance; innovative non-antibiotic therapeutic and preventive treatments are needed to limit emergence of conventional antimicrobial resistance and to address biofilm-associated resistance. Toward this goal, natural antibacterial clays have been identified that are effective at killing drug-resistant human pathogens in planktonic and biofilm states, in vitro. To move toward clinical testing of antibacterial clays, the present study was conducted to evaluate the topical application of a natural antibacterial clay to wounds in mice experimentally infected with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). Five preliminary animal trials were conducted to test various methods of applying hydrated antibacterial clay to infected wounds. None of the experiments yielded significantly reduced MRSA infection in vivo, compared to controls. Several hypotheses were tested to explore the diminished clay antibacterial activity in vivo including: (1) pH and Eh of mineral-bacterial suspensions may differ in wound fluids compared to growth media; (2) antibacterial reactants may complex with components of the wound; (3) hydrated clays may dry out in the wound; and (4) limited dissolved oxygen may reduce Fenton reactions. Ancillary in vitro tests were performed to explore these hypotheses. Results indicate that the clay application to wounds may require enhanced oxidation and possibly a longer treatment regimen. The experimental results foster understanding of the natural clay–bacterial interactions in wounds and may improve designs for medicinal applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)589-602
Number of pages14
JournalClays and Clay Minerals
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2021


  • Animal testing
  • Antibacterial clay
  • MRSA
  • Reduced iron minerals
  • Wound infections

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology
  • Soil Science
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)


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