Researchers develop new method to kill bacteria on medical implants

pharmafile | August 9, 2021 | News story | Medical Communications, Research and Development, Sales and Marketing  

Researchers from Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, have developed a new method to prevent bacterial infections relating to medical implants by covering a graphene-based material with bactericidal molecules.

Certain bacteria can form impenetrable surface layers or ‘biofilms’ on surgical implants, such as dental and other orthopaedic implants, and can cause serious issues for patients. Biofilms are more resistant than other bacteria, and the infections are often difficult to treat, leading to great suffering for patients, and in the worst cases, necessitating removal or replacement of the implants.

Santosh Pandit, researcher at the Department of Biology and Biological Engineering at Chalmers, and first author of the study which was recently published in Scientific Reports, said: “Through our research, we have succeeded in binding water-insoluble antibacterial molecules to the graphene, and having the molecules release in a controlled, continuous manner from the material.

“This is an essential requirement for the method to work. The way in which we bind the active molecules to the graphene is also very simple, and could be easily integrated into industrial processes”.

Researchers used a graphene material that was covered with usnic acid, which is extracted from lichens. Past studies have shown unsic acid to have bactericidal properties and works by preventing bacteria from forming nucleic acids, especially inhibiting of RNA synthesis, and thus blocking protein production in the cell.

Usnic acid was tested for its resistance to the pathogenic bacteria Staphylococcus aureus and Staphylococcus epidermidis, two common culprits for biofilm formation on medical implants. In addition to successful results for integrating the usnic acid into the surface of the graphene material, researchers also observed that the usnic acid molecules were released in a controlled and continuous manner and prevented the formation of biofilms on the surface.

Pandit concluded: “Even more importantly, our results show that the method for binding the hydrophobic molecules to graphene is simple. It paves the way for more effective antibacterial protection of biomedical products in the future.

“We are now planning trials where we will explore binding other hydrophobic molecules and drugs with even greater potential to treat or prevent various clinical infections.”

Kat Jenkins

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