Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Bacteria-resistant Films Created: Microbe Adhesion Depends On Surface Stiffness

Date:
May 19, 2008
Source:
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Summary:
Having found that whether bacteria stick to surfaces depends partly on how stiff those surfaces are, MIT engineers have created ultrathin films made of polymers that could be applied to medical devices and other surfaces to control microbe accumulation.

MIT researchers survey the evidence of their success in figuring out how to make surface coatings that bacteria won't stick to. From left, assistant professor of material science and engineering Krystyn Van Vliet, director of the MIT Center for Materials Science and Engineering Michael Rubner; and materials science and engineering graduate student Jenny Lichter and senior Maricela Delgadillo.
Credit: Photo by Donna Coveney

Having found that whether bacteria stick to surfaces depends partly on how stiff those surfaces are, MIT engineers have created ultrathin films made of polymers that could be applied to medical devices and other surfaces to control microbe accumulation.

The inexpensive, easy-to-produce films could provide a valuable layer of protection for the health care industry by helping to reduce the spread of hospital-acquired infections, which take the lives of 100,000 people and cost the United States an estimated $4.5 billion annually.

The researchers, who describe their work in an upcoming issue of the journal Biomacromolecules, found they could control the extent of bacterial adhesion to surfaces by manipulating the mechanical stiffness of polymer films called polyelectrolyte multilayers. Thus, the films could be designed to prevent accumulation of hazardous bacteria or promote growth of desirable bacteria.

"All other factors being equal, mechanical stiffness of material surfaces increases bacterial adhesion," said Krystyn Van Vliet, the Thomas Lord Assistant Professor of Materials Science and Engineering and the paper's anchor author.

Van Vliet and her colleagues found the same trend in experiments with three strains of bacteria: Staphylococcus epidermidis, commonly found on skin, and two types of Escherichia coli.

Stiffness has usually been overlooked in studies of how bacteria adhere to surfaces in favor of other traits such as surface charge, roughness, and attraction to or repulsion from water. The new work shows that stiffness should also be taken into account, said Van Vliet.

The new films could be combined with current methods of repelling bacteria to boost their effectiveness, said Michael Rubner, an author of the paper and director of MIT's Center for Materials Science and Engineering.

Those methods include coating surfaces with antimicrobial chemicals or embedding metal nanoparticles into the surface, which disrupt the bacterial cell walls.

"For those bacteria that readily form biofilms, we have no delusions that we can prevent bacterial films from starting to form. However, if we can limit how much growth occurs, these existing methods can become much more effective," Rubner said.

Jenny Lichter, graduate student in materials science and engineering, and Todd Thompson, a graduate student in the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology, are joint lead authors of the paper. They note that the films could also be used on medical devices that go inside the body, such as stents and other cardiac implants.

"Once a foreign object enters into the body, if you can limit the number of bacteria going in with it, this may increase the chances that the immune system can defend against that infection," said Thompson.

Another possible application for the films is to promote growth of so-called "good bugs" by tuning the mechanical stiffness of the material on which these bacteria are cultured. These films could stimulate growth of bacteria needed for scientific study, medical testing, or industrial uses such as making ethanol.

The researchers built their films, which are about 50 nanometers (billionths of a meter) thick, with layers of polyelectrolytes (a class of charged polymer). Alternating layers are added at different pH (acidity) levels, which determines how stiff the material is when hydrated at near-neutral pH, such as water. Polymer films assembled at higher pH (up to 6) are stiffer because the polymer chains crosslink readily and the polymers do not swell too much; those added at lower, more acidic pH (down to 2.5) are more compliant.

Van Vliet says the team's results could be explained by the relationship between surfaces and tiny projections from the bacterial cell walls, known as pili. Stiffer surfaces may reinforce stronger, more stable bonds with the bacterial pili. The researchers are now working on figuring out this mechanism.

The research was funded by the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health and the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation Young Investigator Program.

Maricela Delgadillo, a senior in materials science and engineering, and Takehiro Nishikawa, a former postdoctoral researcher at MIT, now at the Advanced Medical Engineering Center in Osaka, Japan, are also authors of the paper.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "Bacteria-resistant Films Created: Microbe Adhesion Depends On Surface Stiffness." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 May 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/05/080515171017.htm>.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. (2008, May 19). Bacteria-resistant Films Created: Microbe Adhesion Depends On Surface Stiffness. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 16, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/05/080515171017.htm
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "Bacteria-resistant Films Created: Microbe Adhesion Depends On Surface Stiffness." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/05/080515171017.htm (accessed April 16, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Ebola Outbreak Now Linked To 121 Deaths

Ebola Outbreak Now Linked To 121 Deaths

Newsy (Apr. 15, 2014) The ebola virus outbreak in West Africa is now linked to 121 deaths. Health officials fear the virus will continue to spread in urban areas. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
In Washington, a Push to Sterilize Stray Cats

In Washington, a Push to Sterilize Stray Cats

AFP (Apr. 14, 2014) To curb the growing numbers of feral cats in the US capital, the Washington Humane Society is encouraging residents to set traps and bring the animals to a sterilization clinic, after which they are released.. Duration: 02:29 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
After Attack, Officials Kill 5 Bears in Florida

After Attack, Officials Kill 5 Bears in Florida

AP (Apr. 14, 2014) Florida wildlife officials say they have killed five bears following an attack on a woman in a suburban subdivision in central Florida. Forty-five year-old Terri Frana was attacked by a large bear in her driveway Saturday. (April 14) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Uruguay Opens Its First Cannabis Library

Uruguay Opens Its First Cannabis Library

AFP (Apr. 13, 2014) Uruguay opened its first Cannabis Library in Montevideo on Saturday, where people can come and read books on cannabis or take classes on how to grow the plant or even how to cook with it. Duration: 01:20 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins