What’s the problem?
Many infections, especially bone and prosthetic infections, involve the formation of a bacterial biofilm. Biofilms inhibit the penetration of antimicrobial agents and are therefore harder to clear than normal infections. Silver nanoparticles have been investigated as antimicrobial surface treatments but these have shown significant cell toxicity.
A new solution:
A novel antimicrobial surface treatment using synthetic immune system-inspired proteins called defensomes.
Many infections, particularly bone and prosthetic infections, involve the formation of a microbial biofilm. Biofilms inhibit the penetration of antimicrobial agents and, since the cells within the biofilm are relatively quiescent, the antimicrobial effect of such agents is decreased. Silver nanoparticles have been used as coatings for prostheses but these have demonstrated significant cytotoxicity.
The researchers at the university have addressed this issue by exploiting the function of defensins, immune cell- derived antimicrobial peptides, which form an important part of the body’s innate immune system. The researchers have developed synthetic peptides called “defensomes”, which have a similar structure to biological defensins, and improved antimicrobial function.
Defensomes are chemically immobilised on the surfaces of medical devices, e.g. implants, to prevent the establishment of biofilms, which would otherwise contribute to increased morbidity. Their data indicates a strong inhibition of biofilm establishment and low development of resistance to the defensome coating, indicating the promise of the technology. A patent has been filed protecting this development.