Sharkskin inspires novel solutions to prevent HAIs

Colin Mangham wrote an article for Medical Design on an innovation by Sharklet Technologies on emulating the microstructure of shark skin to reduce healthcare-associated infections (HAIs).  After an overview of biomimicry, it describes the research of Dr. Brennan to understand how relatively slow-moving sharks avoid skin fouling by algae and barnacles.  Brennan emulated the dermal denticles of shark skin in polymers and was able to demonstrate a reduction in fouling by algae, barnacles and human pathogens.  The structural features reduce bacterial colonization without killing the bacteria, reducing the likelihood that the bacteria would develop resistance (see article on BioSignal in the March 2007 Newsletter)

A surface with a diamond-shaped pattern about 26 micrometers across has been effective against both Gram-negative and Gram-positive bacteria.  In the form of a transparent film, it can be applied to a wide range of surfaces.  Work is underway to incorporate the microstructure directly in hospital furniture.  The microstructure has also being applied to cathethers which can lead to infections by carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteria.

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