New Anti-Bacterial Polymer Coating Eyed For Medical Devices

SEE THE VIDEO as scientists discover 'non-stick' polymers that prevent accumulation of biofilms


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Scientists at the University of Nottingham have discovered a new class of polymer coatings that are resistant to bacterial attachment, which could lead to a significant reduction in hospital infections and medical device failures.


Experts in the Schools of Pharmacy and Molecular Medical Sciences, have shown that when the new materials are applied to the surface of medical devices they repel bacteria and prevent them forming biofilms.


The research was led by Professor Morgan Alexander, and Professor Martyn Davies in the School of Pharmacy and Professor Paul Williams in the School of Molecular Medical Sciences.


The results of the four year research project supported by a Translation Award from the Wellcome Trust, have been published in the prestigious academic journal Nature Biotechnology.


The novel materials had to be found using a new technique. Researchers believed there were new materials that could resist bacteria better but they had to find them. This meant screening thousands of different chemistries and testing their reaction to bacteria — a challenge which was beyond conventional materials development or any of our current understanding of the interaction of micro-organisms with surfaces.


The discovery has been 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 96.7per cent — 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.