Lead Research Organisation: University of Bristol Department Name: Oral and Dental Science
Medical implants and devices constitute an indispensable and vital component of modern healthcare, resulting in greater survival rates, particularly amongst critically ill patients. However, despite tremendous improvements in surgical procedures, biomaterial-associated bacterial infections remain the dominant cause for prosthetic device or implant failures, resulting in significant patient trauma and a huge healthcare burden on the NHS.
Current solutions are largely based upon chemical means (e.g. antibiotics or antimicrobial agents such as silver), which have many shortcomings and limitations. There are also issues associated with the growing problem of antimicrobial resistant (AMR) bacteria. Thus, a completely new way of killing AMR bacteria is urgently needed.
This innovative project explored a unique physical means to combat biomaterial-associated bacterial infections, utilising novel surfaces that kill bacteria with nanospikes, that resemble the nanotextured surfaces found on cicada wings in nature and have already been shown to be effective at killing certain bacteria by us.
Development of novel antimicrobial materials for use in medical devices also has significant potential to attract R&D collaboration/investment from companies who fabricate biomedical implants and prostheses, in particular those transcutaneous implants used in orthopaedics and dentistry where infections remain the major concern. Examples include intraosseous transcutaneous amputation prostheses, external fixation pins, dental implants and abutments. Such devices are also particularly prone to infection by AMR bacteria. The provision of antimicrobial materials that utilise a novel bactericidal mechanism that is equally effective against AMR bacteria therefore has potential to significantly improve current manufacturing practices. Ultimately, exploitation of novel biomaterials for the development of next-generation medical devices with resistance to bacterial infection has potential to transform biomedical/biotechnology industries, and thus contribute to the nation's overall health and wealth creation.