The physical chemist Aleš Panáček has won a ‘President’s Prize’ of the Czech Science Foundation (GACR).

Not only was his research published in Nature Communication, but Aleš Panáček was also awarded a prestigious prize called President’s Prize of the Czech Science Foundation (GACR). Both of these achievements are recognition for his research focused on reactivating the effectivity of antibiotics against resistant bacteria using silver nanoparticles. Along with Aleš Panáček, another four researchers received this award on 26 September 2018. The laureates have been selected from the total number of 782 projects aimed at fundamental research completed last year.

This researcher from Olomouc received his prize for outstanding results he obtained while carrying out a project called ‘Study of bacterial resistance elimination using combination of antibiotics with silver compounds or with silver nanoparticles using in vitro, in vivo or in silico methods’.

“This prize is recognition not only for my work but also for my colleagues’ from Palacký University’s Faculty of Science and Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry. I regard it as evidence that our efforts have been worthwhile, as also reflected, of course, in the excellent research results. However, winning such a prize also provides a spur to continue pushing the limits of the research rather than resting on your laurels”, said Aleš Panáček.”

Results of the research have already been published in the prestigious journal Nature Nanotechnology, and he is convinced that this made a significant contribution to his selection for the award. The aforementioned project was conducted by a joint teach of researchers from RCPTM, the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry, and the Centre of the Region Haná for biotechnological and agricultural research. The study describes a unique resistance mechanism to silver nanoparticles the bacteria possess and the way this can be overcome by pomegranate extract. Such findings could significantly contribute towards resolving the global antibiotics resistance crisis.

“The mechanism of overcoming bacterial resistance has been confirmed by in vitro methods, meaning under laboratory conditions. The next step is to prove such an effect in in vivo experiments —application of silver nanoparticles along with antibiotics in treating systemic infections induced by resistant bacteria in laboratory animals. With respect to this area, there is a load of work ahead. But with a bit of luck, our research will be supported by another GACR project, the application of which we submitted in spring 2018. Logically, it is a step we need to take, meaning we have to prove that the mechanisms we have discovered work in such a complex biological system as a living organism”, said Aleš Panáček.

Aleš Panáček has been focusing on biological effects of nanosilver for approximately 16 years, since his doctoral studies. In 2006 he was one of the authors of a pioneering study published in the Journal of Physical Chemistry B in which the scientists explored the activity of silver nanoparticles against a wide range of bacteria including high resistant strains. He continued researching the antimicrobial properties of silver nanoparticles and the possibility of overcoming the bacterial resistance in the following years with the support of another two projects granted by GACR, both of which rated as outstanding.

President’s Prize of the Czech Science Foundation have been presented annually since 2003. The number of awards has totalled 64 since then.