Antibacterial Clay Therapy

Project summary

Antimicrobial resistance is a global concern requiring innovative and lateral approaches to combat the threat to human health. New antimicrobial agents and materials are urgently needed to tackle increasingly drug resistant pathogens. For centuries, clay minerals have been employed in traditional medicine, either topically or by ingestion. Recent studies have verified that clays do possess unique antibacterial properties that offer considerable health benefits. The approach to this project aims to merge empirical studies on the constituents and antibacterial properties of therapeutic clays, while also considering political, social and cultural contexts that may inform future medical applications.

As a starting point, we will evaluate clay from the Baku region of Azerbijan as an antibacterial agent with potential for the treatment of wound infections. The structure and composition of this clay will be specifically defined and its antibacterial efficacy assessed against representative bacterial species. As an integral part of the project, we will commence a broader, humanities-driven approach to investigate the poorly characterised usage of clays in the treatment of infections. There are many questions surrounding the different ways that clays are harnessed as therapies, for what types of infection and in what kinds of social interactions.

Term: Michaelmas Term



Project fellows

Principal Investigator: Dr Gary J. Sharples (Department of Biosciences)
Principal Investigator: Dr Kim Jamie (Sociology)

French-Azerbaijani University

Dr Elshan (El) Abdullayev is a researcher at the French-Azerbaijani University in Baku, Azerbaijan. He researches clay minerals, their chemical composition and the geochemistry of the sediments from the lacustrine and marine basin.

Miami University

Hailiang Dong is professor of Geomicrobiology, Geochemistry, and Mineralogy at Miami University, Ohio, United States. The overall objective of Professor Dong’s research program is to understand how and why microorganisms and geological media interact and how to study their mutual interactions to understand a range of biogeochemical processes on Earth and beyond.

University of Edinburgh

Dr Sean McMahon is an astrobiologist interested in microbe­–mineral interactions and their role in the preservation of fossils on Earth and (theoretically) Mars.