This is the tale of two biological substancescells from mammals and bacteria. It's a story about the havoc these microscopic entities can wreak on all manner of surfaces, from mighty ships to teeth and medical devices, and how two Syracuse University researchers are discovering new ways prevent the damage.
Under moist conditions, bacteria form what scientists call biofilmsa sticky, slimy buildup on almost any kind of surface. Biofilms can corrode the hulls of ships, produce green slime on rocks, pollute drinking water systems, form plaque on teeth, and stick to medical devices implanted in humans, resulting in infection or rejection.
It's critically important, therefore, for scientists to gain a better understanding of how biofilms are formed and use that knowledge to develop surfaces that will resist such biofouling. In an unusual, interdisciplinary collaboration, SU researchers have found that if you can prevent protein from sticking to a surface, you can prevent both bacteria and mammalian cells from doing likewise. In the process, they developed a novel, surface technology that scientists can use to study biofilms in ways that were not previously possible.
In a series of experiments, Yan-Yeung Luk, assistant professor of chemistry in SU's College of Arts and Sciences; and Dacheng Ren, assistant professor of biomedical engineering in the L.C. Smith College of Engineering and Computer Science, created a surface material on which they could manipulate and confine biofilm growth four times longer than current technologies. By further manipulating the chemical makeup of the surface, the scientists uncovered how mammalian cells and bacteria adhere to surfaces.
Their work, which is supported by grants from the National Science Foundation, was recently reported in the February 4 online version of "ChemComm," the journal of the Royal Society of Chemistry (forthcoming in print); and in the January 9 online version of
|Contact: Judy Holmes|