Scientists at The University of Nottingham have discovered a new class of polymers that are resistant to bacterial attachment. These materials could lead to a significant reduction in hospital infections and medical device failures. Medical device associated infections can lead to systemic infections or device failure, including urinary and venous catheters. Experts in the Schools of Pharmacy and Molecular Medical Sciences were able to show that when the new materials are applied to the surface of medical devices, they repel bacteria and prevent them from forming biofilms. The results of the research project have been published in the academic journal Nature Biotechnology (“Combinatorial discovery of polymers resistant to bacterial attachment”).
The discovery was made with the help of experts from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) — who initially developed the process by which thousands of unique polymers can now be screened simultaneously.
These new materials prevent infection by stopping biofilm formation at the earliest possible stage — when the bacteria first attempt to attach themselves to the device. In the laboratory experts were able to reduce the numbers of bacteria by up to 96.7% — compared with a commercially available silver containing catheter — and were effective at resisting bacterial attachment in a mouse implant infection model. By preventing bacterial attachment, the body’s own immune system can kill the bacteria before they have time to generate biofilms.
Bacterial attachment and subsequent biofilm formation are key challenges to the performance of medical devices. This is early stage research and the next step will be to develop the manufacture of these coatings to enable the performance of the new materials to be assessed clinically. Inventors are currently in early stage discussions with a number of medical device companies.
Source: University of NottinghamYvonne Klöpping