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article imageShark skin inspires new antibacterial surface

By Tim Sandle     Jul 31, 2017 in Science
A new type of antibacterial surface technology has been developed. The inspiration for the surface came from a study of the skin of sharks. The surface has been commercialized by a company called Sharklet Technologies.
The development of the surface shows just what a start-up company can achieve: something innovative, which will charge lives and also potentially generate sufficient funds for re-investment and the development of further technologies. The company in question is Sharklet Technologies Inc. and it was formed by Anthony Brennan.
Key to the technology is a pattern inspired by shark skin. The aim of the material is to address microorganisms, but preventing them from adhering to the surface, and biofilms (communities of microorganisms held together by a slime-like matrix). This is achieved through the application of a series of micro-sized bars arranged onto the surface in an interlocking diamond fashion. This fashions a surface that prevents organisms from attaching. The science behind this is described as ‘microtopography’. An important selling point is that there are no chemicals added to the surface, the bacteria repulsion is achieved purely by the surface structure.
Polymicrobic biofilm grown on a stainless steel surface in a laboratory potable water biofilm reacto...
Polymicrobic biofilm grown on a stainless steel surface in a laboratory potable water biofilm reactor for 14 days, then stained with 4,6-diamidino-2-phenylindole (DAPI) and examined by epifluorescence microscopy. Bar, 20 µm.
Ricardo Murga and Rodney Donlan / Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
The video below provides more details:
The reason why shark skin was the source of inspiration is because the skin of the shark is resistant to biofouling. This is due to the skin of the shark being protected by denticles.
Speaking with medical technology site QMed, Brennan explains: “Sharklet surface technology basically creates a surface that inhibits bacterial adhesion and growth by limiting the organism from touching the surface through minimizing the available water required.”
He goes onto explain how the initial trials have been successful: “Our experimental studies demonstrate clearly that bacteria adhesion and biofilm formation is inhibited by the Sharklet microtopography or micropatterns.”
The technology has many important applications, Brennan adds. Here the potential exists “to use the micropattern to reduce the accumulation and transference of the bacteria between surfaces. We are currently evaluating several products that we anticipate will benefit from the use of Sharklet micropatterns.”
The main application of the technology will be with medical devices and coatings used on hospital surfaces. With Sharklet Technologies itself the future looks promising. The company has been acquired by the Chinese medical device firm Peaceful Union and the surface is going forward to clinical trial.
More about Antimicrobial, Shark, Surface, Bacteria
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