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Antibacterial coatings cut infection rates

Putting antibacterial coatings on hip and knee implants and biomedical devices such as catheters could cut infection rates following surgery and significantly reduce health care costs and improve quality of life for patients, researchers at the University of South Australia have found.

A significant number of hip and knee implants are prone to infection after surgery and in many cases are not amenable to treatment with antibiotics, according to Hans Griesser, Professor of Surface Science and Deputy Director of UniSA's Ian Wark Research Institute.

"For patients in this situation it may be necessary to remove the implant from the infected site, cleanse the wound and undergo replacement surgery within a short time after original implantation, causing significant trauma, especially for the elderly," Professor Griesser said.

Catheters can also be a source of bacterial infections, which can spread from the skin to the incision for catheter insertion, and have been known to cause anaphylactic shock resulting in death, according to Professor Griesser. Hospitals combat this problem by removing and replacing catheters at frequent intervals, and at considerable cost to the health care system.

"Another significant problem caused by bacterial contamination of medical devices is bacteria that settle on contact lenses and cause inflammation and, more rarely, infections," Professor Griesser said.

Researchers at The WarkTM are developing nanometre thin coatings for biomedical implants and biomedical devices that prevent bacterial colonisation of implants that result in septic inflammation problems.

"We are using molecules called furanones, which are derived from natural chemicals originally extracted from Australian macro algae seaweed that grows off the eastern coast. The chemicals produced by these macro algae were found to prevent the colonisation of microbial organisms such as bacteria and fungi on their surfaces, he
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Source:Research Australia


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