Research from the University of South Australia has made progress towards reducing the risk of post-surgery infections in the roughly 90,000 patients who receive biomedical implants such as hip and knee replacements each year.
Developed out of UniSA’s Mawson Institute, the new process involves covering implants with a special coating that releases nitric oxide. The nitric oxide, a molecule which plays a part in biological signalling processes, works to effectively ‘stun’ potential harmful bacteria, preventing them from forming an infectious biofilm around the implant. It is especially effective in disrupting networks of various communicating bacteria, which could otherwise co-operate to infect a host.
According to Mawson Institute Director Professor Hans Griesser, not many people are aware that bacteria ‘talk’ to each other about suitable locations for feeding and growth. The coating helps to “send the message that it’s not worth staying around.” This in turn makes bacteria more susceptible to conventional antibiotics, as they are not able to multiply as effectively.
Another beneficial side effect of the nitric oxide molecule released by the coating is that it aids in healing the wound and is, in fact, used naturally by the body to signal the need for healing.
UniSA’s commercialisation arm ITEK Ventures is now looking for a commercial partner to develop the tech, with the aim to develop a commercial product in the next five years. Very clever, UniSA. Great work!
[img source] j. edward ferguson (CCA2.0)