Enterprising Research: a smarter way to use antibiotics to combat implant associated infections

When you go to hospital there’s a small
chance of picking up a bacterial or fungal infection.
Increasingly these infections are associated with common medical materials, such as catheters,
dental implants and contact lenses, as well as orthopaedics.
Sometimes implant infections become so serious that the patient dies as a consequence. Whilst
we can still take antibiotics before or after surgery to prevent infections, our research
team is looking at a smarter way to use antibiotics so that they will be continue to be effective
into the future. Our team at the Future Industries Institute
is working to combat implant associated infections. We have a developed a process where a tiny
amount of antibiotics is embedded in a thin biodegradable coating for biomedical devices.
Our research has found that disease-causing yeast cells, the most common cause of fungal
infections in the human body, settle onto our coatings, digest them and get killed.
This approach is much more efficient than taking oral antibiotics to combat infection
because the drugs are precisely where they’re needed, on the implant, and more importantly
our research shows the antibiotics remain concealed within the implant coating, only
becoming revealed if the infectious agents are present.
Together with colleagues from the School of Pharmacy, and the company ReZolve Scientific,
we are working to make medical devices resistant to infections.

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