Reducing the Risk of Wound Infections

Photo: Cells withz antibacterial equipment

“We are developing surface coatings for implants and dressing material on which the development of germs is hardly possible”, explains Doctor Renate Förch, researcher and project leader at the MPI-P.

“Our special interest lies on the reduction of the complex germs Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeroginosa which pose problems in hospitals because they develop antibiotic resistance. The Federal Office of Consumer Protection and Food Safety (BVL) declared in a report that in 2010 already 25 percent of all bacterial strains show antibiotic resistance.

With the help of the methods developed at the MPI-P bacterial infections can be prevented after surgical intervention. To this end, the scientists first have to identify and research both the biological mechanisms underlying the adhesion of germs on certain surfaces and the genetic sequences determining the adhesion process.

“In order to accomplish this, we use the so-called plasma coating of surfaces”, Förch explains. The method used at the MPI for Polymer Research allows for a coating of surfaces with plastic-like materials (plasma polymers) and zinc-releasing materials. Germs can neither adhere to these surfaces nor reproduce themselves.

A cooperative research team from Bath in Great-Britain specialized on the development of an alternative solution to the problem based on metal organometallic hydrogels. Another research group – the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology (EMPA) – focuses their research work on the development of nanostructures that can store and release silver using plasma technology. All these approaches have one thing in common: The researchers always have to take into consideration such criteria as the biocompatibility, storage stability and durability. Thus, the biomedical properties of the materials are being examined by research teams of the Institute for forensic medicine of the University Hospital of Cologne, the Exeter University (UK), Consejo Superio de Investigaciones Cientificas in Barcelona (Spain) and the University Medical Center in Mainz.

All involved research teams will meet on January 17th and 18th, 2011 in Cologne to exchange interim results of the last two and a half years’ work. Research results from the EMBEK1 project are already being developed further in a follow-up project: The project BacterioSafe is likewise funded with 3.4 Million Euro by the European Union. The project aims at developing materials at the MPI-P that will at the same time be able to release antibiotic agents on dressing materials and indicate the presence of pathogenic germs. In this process, the scientists first have to identify certain biological mechanisms of pathogenic germs. Those mechanisms will then trigger the release of antibacterial agents and colorants as signaling substances for pathogenic germs using nanocapsules and nanovesicles.

Renate Förch believes that after the successful conclusion of the EMBEK1project in summer of 2011 and the BacterioSafe project in three and a half years, the first innovative product applications will soon be produced.

COMPAMED.de; Source: Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research (MPI-P)