IF NECESSITY is the mother of invention then it is no surprise that this 78-year-old from One Mile has turned his talents to solving problems.
Hans Laroo knows what the word struggle means - having survived extreme malnourishment during the Second-World-War in his native Holland.
He arrived in Australia as a gaunt teenager in 1951 and has since become a proud Aussie citizen - who just happens to have taken an interest in a thing called colloidal silver.
A knack for electronics and curiosity for science triggered Mr Laroo's mission to create a possible replacement for antibiotics about eight years ago.
After some extensive research, he not only realised products currently being marketed as colloidal silver were not what they claimed to be, but he also discovered a way to make what he claims is 100% colloidal silver.
The antimicrobial properties of silver have been known for some time, however there is some argument over the purity of the silver being marketed and its possible side effects.
"Very early in my research I realised that the majority of products produced and marketed since the early 1900s were not colloidal silver, but dangerous substances that consisted solely of metallic silver, ionic silver or silver nitrate and also contained dangerous additives such as arsenic, copper, iron, lead and even cadmium," he said.
"Anyone involved in making this material had no idea what they were producing."
Mr Laroo used his electronics know-how to start building machines that could produce colloidal silver using an electro-chemical method that he devised himself.
His research has sparked interest at major universities in Queensland and in India, where clinical trials are about to begin.
Professor Laurie Walsh of the University of Queensland School of Dentistry said Mr Laroo seemed to have created a reliable form of colloidal silver that had powerful effects on bacteria.
"Up to now colloidal silver has been regarded as a bit of a dodgy material throughout the world," Professor Walsh said.
"Common methods of making it leave you with ionic silver."
Ionic silver is known to be harmful if taken in large doses, as it does not break down in the body.
"I have run samples from Hans through analytical devices to test purity - it is exceptional," he said.
"My interest in it is for a topical treatment. I would have no problem using it on myself but I wouldn't ingest it, because the chemistry alters once it enters your digestive system."
Prof Walsh said Mr Laroo's colloidal silver could be useful for treating anything from ringworm, to tinea and the dreaded jock-rot.
"These fungal conditions can be quite difficult to treat and the current products can cause side effects and react with other medications," he said.
"A rapidly acting safe material could be really useful for treatment over broad areas."
The Indians certainly agree. Pharmaceutical company owner Rajpal Singh Kochhar has plans to take some of Mr Laroo's colloidal silver-making equipment back home to conduct clinical trials.
A spokesman from the Therapeutic Goods Authority said Colloidal silver, when used only for water purification purposes, is considered to be an Excluded Good under the Therapeutic Goods (Excluded Goods) Order.
"Colloidal silver products that make therapeutic claims are classified as therapeutic goods under the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989.
"To date, the TGA has not approved any colloidal silver products for use as therapeutic goods in Australia," he said.
"Sponsors wishing to market colloidal silver products as therapeutic goods in Australia will need to submit an application to the TGA, accompanied by scientific data to support the safety, quality and efficacy of the product for its intended use."
For more information about colloidal silver, please visit tga.gov.au
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