By Gary Thomas
Researchers from The University of Nottingham have utilized an advanced technology to identify a new range of polymers which are resistant to bacterial attachment.
Lead academic Professor Morgan Alexander studies Time of Flight Ion Mass Spectrometry used to analyse the surface chemistry of samples. (credit: The University of Nottingham)
The researchers have demonstrated that when these materials are coated over medical devices, they prevent biofilm formation by resisting bacterial attachment. These innovative materials hold potential to considerably reduce medical device failures and hospital infections. Bacteria prevent themselves by forming biofilm, which protects them from the body’s immune system and antibiotics.
The findings of the £1.3m four-year project have appeared in the Nature Biotechnology journal. The University of Nottingham researchers have developed the state-of-the art technology with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) scientists, who originally devised the method that allows concurrent screening of thousands of novel polymers.
Professor Morgan Alexander, one of the researchers from the University of Nottingham, informed that utilizing this breakthrough technology, the university team identified a new class of structurally related materials that can significantly decrease pathogenic bacterial attachment, through screening of thousands of materials. This is not possible with traditional techniques.
These new group of novel materials prevent the formation of biofilms at the earliest stage possible when the bacteria try to affix themselves to the surface of the medical devices. In Laboratory results, these materials demonstrated a 96.7% reduction in the count of bacteria when compared to silver coated catheters and effectively resisted the attachment of bacteria in a mouse implant infection model. Prevention of bacterial attachment enables the body’s own immune system to destroy the bacteria prior to their formation of biofilms.
The next step of this work will involve the development of these coatings to assess their performance clinically and the researchers are in early stage talks with several medical device companies.