‘Bacteria-Free’ medical devices to prevent infections spreading on medical devices

Medical implants such as hip replacements or heart valves after surgery can develop a biofilm due to the accumulation of bacteria. Their use is compromised. Microbiologists have discovered a novel way to prevent bacteria from growing such implants which could have a direct impact on the recovery of patients after surgery.

Medical implants are routinely used to disorders but development of “biofilms” on the surface of the device after it is implanted in the human body affects the use and patient post-surgery recovery.

The group of bacteria that usually attaches to medical devices is “staphylococci”. They grow on catheters, heart valves and artificial joints and removal of these colonies requires replacement of the medical device. Each incident of biofilm infection costs EUR50,000-90,000 to the healthcare system.

The research team at Trinity’s School of Genetics and Microbiology, Dublin have discovered that it is possible to prevent communities of staphylococci from forming by targeting the linkages that hold the bacteria together. Addition of a small blocking molecule prevented SdrC protein attached to the surface of the bacteria from recognizing other bacteria. This prevented the bacteria from forming colonies. This breakthrough can potentially reduce the incidence of medical device-related infection.

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