Australian biotech company Biosignal and the Institute for Eye Research have received ethics approval for the human clinical trial of antibacterial coated contact lenses, The Engineer Online reports.
The company’s technology, that is designed to reduce bacteria’s ability to form biofilms on surfaces:
Biosignal’s approach to controlling bacterial contamination is a radical departure from traditional approaches. Biosignal’s anti-biofilm compounds interfere with signaling systems employed by bacteria. Bacteria depend on signaling systems to colonise surfaces, to form biofilms, and to maintain these biofilms once formed.
The Biosignal technology does not kill bacteria but “jams” signaling to stop bacterial colonisation. Thus bacterial resistance and non-target environmental impacts are avoided.
Bacteria mutate and generate resistance as a result of confronting selective pressure. This pressure is high when the survival of the organism is threatened by a biocide. The selective pressure exerted by Biosignal’s anti-biofilm compounds is low as bacteria are only prevented from settling on a particular surface. The seaweed where this mechanism was first discovered uses the naturally-occurring compounds to prevent bacterial surface colonisation. This has been effective for millions of years without causing bacterial resistance. Biosignal’s synthetic anti-biofilm compounds also appear to side-step resistance. The serious problem of increasing bacterial resistance and the fading efficacy of biocides and antibiotics suggests that Biosignal ‘s technology could have vast commercial applications.
The University of New South Wales, where most of the research on furanone antibacterial technology was done, further explains:
The core of Biosignal’s extensive IP platform is a range of novel compounds, known as furanones. These molecules act as antagonists in bacterial signalling pathways, which leads to a range of outcomes, most importantly the prevention of highly resistant biofilms forming on surfaces, including biological surfaces.
The key benefit of the technology is the prospect of effective prevention of bacterial contamination whilst avoiding the development of resistance by bacteria. Bacterial resistance is a very significant global problem, primarily caused by overuse of antibiotics and biocides. Another benefit is the fact that furanones are biodegradable.