Biomaterial reduces infection risk

Materials World magazine
5 Jul 2019

A new material may prevent infections acquired from being in a hospital. Idha Valeur reports.

A new biomaterial could help avoid infections caught in a hospital due to the material’s bacteria-resistant properties. 

Every year, 10,000 people in the UK die from hospital-gained infections. About 10% of those get an infection while in care, and more than a third of infections are related to catheters. 

Bactigon, the newly discovered group of structurally related polymers has the capability of significantly reducing the attachment of pathogenic bacteria like Pseudomonas, Proteus, Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus.

‘This has gone all the way from the discovery of a new class of materials that no one could have predicted all the way to clinical trials and that’s a massive achievement,’ said Professor of Biomedical Surfaces and leader of the research, Morgan Alexander. 

‘This is only the second medical product to ever come out of this type of high throughput materials discovery.’

Several devices in use in hospital, like catheters are exposed to biofilms, essentially slimy bacterias, which guard the bacteria against the body’s natural antibiotics and defence system. The key is to prevent biofilms forming, which these new biomaterials do at the earliest stage possible, therefore hindering the bacteria’s attempt to stick to a medical device, according to the university’s release. 

Together with their commercial partner, Camstent, the researchers developed the material into a coating for urinary catheters that is now in use in a clinical trial. 

‘So far we have tested the catheter on hundreds of patients, but we will need to wait until we have tested on thousands to say for definite what the reduction rate would be,’ Alexander told The Telegraph.  

The biomaterials were part of an exhibition at Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition, which ended on 7 July.