New polymer material could serve as anti-bacterial medical coating

Researchers at The University of Nottingham have discovered a new class of polymer material that is resistant to bacteria such as E-Coli. The breakthrough, they believe, could lead to a significant reduction in hospital infections and medical device failures, a problem which currently costs the NHS £1billion a year.

Intended as coatings in the first instance, these new materials prevent infection by stopping bacteria forming communities known as biofilms at the earliest possible stage. 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.They were also effective at resisting bacterial attachment in a mouse implant infection model.

Ted Bianco, director of technology transfer at the Wellcome Trust, which funded the research, said: "Infections caused by microbial biofilms binding to the surface of implants often cannot be treated with conventional antibiotics. This makes them a significant challenge in patient care, particularly for those with inserted medical devices like catheters, heart valves and prosthetic joints. The discovery of these new polymers is a great example of how advances in materials science are being exploited in our efforts to improve the performance of critical medical components. Just as materials science gave us the non-stick saucepan, so we look forward to the day of the 'non-stick' medical device."

The research is outlined in the video below.

Laura Hopperton

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