For the study, researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University in New York used mice infected with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus.
The drug delivery system used biocompatible nanoparticles -- each smaller than a grain of pollen -- to produce controlled and sustained amounts of nitrous oxide gas. Nitrous oxide -- produced by many cells throughout the body -- has several important biological functions, including killing bacteria, but its therapeutic potential has been difficult to harness, the researchers said.
"The problem is that nitric oxide is very short-lived and, until now, methods to deliver it to targeted tissues in the proper dosages have proven elusive," Dr. Joel Friedman of Albert Einstein said in a statement.
The wounds of mice treated topically with nitrous oxide-containing nanoparticles improved much more significantly and had lower bacterial counts than the lesions in mice receiving either nanoparticles devoid of nitrous oxide or receiving no treatment at all.
The nanoparticle formulation was developed by Friedman and his son, Dr. Adam Friedman -- an incoming dermatology chief resident.
The Friedmans were co-senior authors of the study, published online in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, along with Dr. Joshua D. Nosanchuk.