Anti-microbial Surfaces for Medical Devices

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A Monash cross-Faculty research program is  addressing the urgent call for infection-resistant biomedical devices.

In order to colonise a surface, many  species of bacteria undergo a profound change in their biology, to form a  biofilm: a community of cells that enshroud themselves in a protective matrix  of secreted macromolecules. Stents, catheters and other implanted devices are  engineered from materials that are attractive surfaces that stimulate biofilm  growth.

The Australian Chief Scientist Professor  Ian Chubb has joined the calls from the Chief Medical Officer of England, Dame  Sally Davies, in publicising the catastrophic threat to our public health from  hospital acquired bacterial infections by so-called ‘super bugs’. Associate  Professor John Forsythe and Professor Trevor Lithgow are collaborating on a  research program directly addressing this urgent call for infection-resistant  biomedical devices. Their recent research on the biology of biofilms suggests  that effective prevention of biofilm formation could be achieved by engineering  surfaces that present:

  • Self-assembling peptides
  • Bacteria-killing reactive species  incorporated into plasma polymerised thin films, and
  • Gelled ionic liquids

In published research they have  demonstrated for the first time a means to kill the bacterium Klebsiella  pneumoniae, as well as other bacterial species.