Throughout the course of the summer, I have been conducting research, under the supervision of Dr. Jaimelee Rizzo, where I have studied ways to generate antimicrobial surfaces that can provide UV resistance by combining indigenous kinds of butter, natural oils, and organic powdered ingredients. Since the beginning of this investigative study, the base of my formulations has been ucuuba butter, aloe vera butter and tamanu butter. These kinds of butter, individually, are known for having a degree of resistance to bacterial growth, cleansing properties, and rejuvenating ability which is due to the relative amounts of fatty acids naturally found in the plants they are derived from. Various studies suggest the use of essential fatty acids and their metabolites are effective in reducing the epidermal burdens caused by microbes. Small chain fatty acids common in the starting materials used in this study include trimyristin, lactins, salicylic acid, glycerols, and glycolipids, which are known to inhibit the growth of bacteria. Our bodies also naturally produce these biological chemicals to ward off and protect us from infection. The incorporation of natural oils in the production of antimicrobial surfaces further enhances microbial resistance as well as provides a potential means to obstruct UV penetration- ultimately prevent the development of cancer.
A partnered group at LIU Post, students under the supervision of Dr. Karin Melkonian, follows a protocol for the bacterial testing done on the samples generated in my experiments. At LIU post, our research associates test the bacteria S.aureus against samples and measure the diameter for which bacteria does not grow. We assess samples as being antimicrobial when the diameter of clearance is greater than 1 cm, however, we are looking for products with a far great zone of clearance, which will be tested further against other bacteria. Throughout this project, 14 different essential oils were incorporated with each of the three kinds of butter. Overall 94 different samples were concocted, and about 45 different samples provided ample microbial resistance when tested against S. aureus. When tested for UV protection, about 40 samples demonstrated some degree of UV protection. UV protection is determined based on a 1-10 scale where the degree of color change is visible on UV color changing beads, 10 being no UV light penetration. Overall, about 35 samples were able to demonstrate both UV protection and antimicrobial resistance. In general, the materials that are most commonly combined to get the results that we consider most favorable are samples that incorporate black cumin oil, marine powder, and ginseng powder. The most favorable results that have been recorded today are samples RP 65 which had the widest margin to inhibit bacterial growth at greater than 4 cm and absolutely no UV light penetration- this sample was made with a mixture of 3.85 milliliters of ucuuba butter, 3 milliliters of black cumin oil, and 0.2 grams of marine powder. Looking forward in the continuation of this project I hope to find more combinations that offer a zone of clearance greater than 4 cm and advancing this study to test our samples on live living cells. By the end of this project, it is anticipated that we will be able to provide a means to address more sterile wound healing techniques.
Looking to the future, as I am projected to graduate in spring 2019, weighing my options for a career is a pressing matter. Having spent a quality amount of time in Dr. Rizzo’s lab studying a project closely related to cosmetic chemistry, this seems like a potential field of work. Understanding that the hardest part of any research project is failure and that patience in finding samples that work is the only drawback to this type of study, but striving to help out a population of others is the potential reward and driving force. This research project has the potential to change the way wounds are treated in active environments. Although chemically enhanced skin care products, which are used daily, are effective they carry a lot of side effects and some unknown long-term changes may be observed. Switching to natural products is a safe way to treat wounds or infections while preserving a natural chemical balance of the human body.
What are different ways to increase the zones of clearance of the tested surfaces, which will increase antimicrobial resistance?
How can we maximize UV resistance and antimicrobial growth concurrently while maintaining the smallest possible ratio of materials?