Biofilms are groups of bacteria that clump together and protect each other. They are the cause of all sorts of infections, and because cleansers and antibiotics have a lot of difficulty dealing with them there’s been a search for new solutions. Though biofilms do form inside the body, they are notorious in the medtech industry for making home within the crevices of medical devices, resisting commonly used cleaning techniques.
At the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, researchers have developed a new method of puncturing through biofilms and disrupting their phalanx-like impenetrability. They are using diatoms, which are algae skeletons, and a combination of hydrogen peroxide and manganese oxide nanosheets, to generate fast moving oxygen bubbles. These bubbles, when delivered in quantity, are powerful enough to hammer through biofilms and expose their individual bacterial cells.
The diatoms are easy to obtain, and they’re hollow and porous, so can be stuffed with a substance that is then easily released. The hydrogen peroxide and manganese oxide nanosheets are allowed to mix inside the diatoms, releasing their bubbles through the pores with the skeletal shells.
Here’s a video demonstrating the technique that may end up being a standard way to process medical devices:
Study in ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces: Diatom Microbubbler for Active Biofilm Removal in Confined Spaces…