The main concern with contamination of a medical implant is blood poisoning. Although infections remain rare events, there is some evidence that the incident of infection is increasing. Devices at risk include prostheses and pacemakers, as well as other implanted devices like catheters. A medical device is an instrument, apparatus, implant, or similar article that is used to diagnose, prevent, or treat disease or other conditions.
To guard against infection risk, scientists have developed a thin, silver-coated biofilm to prevent bacteria adhering and surviving on the device. Silver has good antibacterial and antifungal properties. As well as silver, antimicrobial peptides, including catestatin, are included within the chemical matrix.
Silver has other potential benefits; some scientists argue that adding silver to existing antibiotics can increase their effectiveness. As well as a use in biofilms and antibiotics, the addition of anti-microbial substances like silver to bandages to help combat wound infection is becoming increasingly common.
Moreover, the biofilm can help to reduce inflammation. The anti-inflammatory properties come from the inclusion of the chemical polyarginine.
Successful trials have been undertaken at Strasbourg University with the new coating against the types of bacteria and fungi that are common to human skin (such as Staphylococcus aureus, Candida albicans and Aspegillus fumigatus.
While the results are successful, further development work is required in order to show patient safety. The new film could be available within the next couple of years.
The findings are published in the journal Advanced Healthcare Materials. The research paper is titled “Harnessing the Multifunctionality in Nature: A Bioactive Agent Release System with Self-Antimicrobial and Immunomodulatory Properties.”