Bacterial biofilms are a cause of countless challenging infections originating from implanted medical devices, urinary and intravenous catheters, and other clinical tools that interface with the human body. To help prevent biofilms from forming on the surfaces of these devices, researchers at Harvard’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering have developed a new coating technology that sheds any bacteria forming on it.
Like a sponge, a polymer based on oil-infused polydimethylsiloxane (iPDMS) is able to absorb silicone oil into its structure. This oil is highly slippery, slowly being released by the polymer towards the surface. The oil prevents bacteria sticking to it, and since it’s constantly seeping out the device’s surface maintains its slippery and repulsive nature.
Both the polymer and the silicone oil are non-toxic and are already used extensively in medical and cosmetic industries.
From the study abstract in ACS Biomaterials Science & Engineering:
Planar and tubular geometry silicone substrates can be infused with nontoxic silicone oil to create a stable, extremely slippery interface that exhibits exceptionally low bacterial adhesion and prevents biofilm formation. Analysis of a flow culture of Pseudomonas aeruginosa through untreated PDMS and iPDMS tubing shows at least an order of magnitude reduction of biofilm formation on iPDMS, and almost complete absence of biofilm on iPDMS after a gentle water rinse. The iPDMS materials can be applied as a coating on other polymers or prepared by simply immersing silicone tubing in silicone oil, and are compatible with traditional sterilization methods. As a demonstration, we show the preparation of silicone-coated polyurethane catheters and significant reduction of Escherichia coli andStaphylococcus epidermidis biofilm formation on the catheter surface. This work represents an important first step toward a simple and effective means of preventing bacterial adhesion on a wide range of materials used for medical devices.
Study in ACS Biomaterials Science & Engineering: Liquid-Infused Silicone As a Biofouling-Free Medical Material…
More from Harvard: Novel non-stick material joins portfolio of slippery surface technologies…
(hat tip: Gizmodo)