Silicone coating stops build-up of bacterial biofilms on hospital equipment

Scientists in the US have invented a new material that discourages the colonisation of life-threatening bacteria on medical equipment such as catheters.

Joanna Aizenberg from the Kavli Institute for Bionano Science and Technology at Harvard University’s solution was commercially available silicone tubing,  infused with high-purity silicone oil.

This silicone mixture releases a self-lubricating, slippery coating that’s super-repellent, long-lasting, non-toxic, and cheap to produce.

Suitable for all kinds of medical surfaces, including those of mechanical heart valves, urinary catheters, intravenous catheters, and implants

So-called biofilms, the build up of colonies of E. coli and Staph bacteria, can pose greater risks than antibiotic-resistance strains and are a big problem in hospitals.Urinary tract infections from affected catheters represent 40% of all hospital-acquired infections.

E. coli and Staphylococcus epidermis, meanwhile, cause many types of tissue and blood infections that could kill you, even if with a minor medical procedure.

To test their new coating, the researchers exposed treated and untreated medical tubing to P. aeruginosa, E.coli, and Staphylococcus epidermidis. They found that the silicone oil-infused tubing greatly reduced bacterial adhesion and largely eliminated biofilm formation.

Cosmos is taking a close look at biolfilms, the risk they pose and ways of dealing with them, in our next issue.

H/T SciTech Alert


Bill Condie

Bill Condie

Bill Condie is a science journalist based in Adelaide, Australia.

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