Researchers at Harvard's School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering have developed a new coating technology to help prevent biofilms from forming on the surfaces of these devices, that sheds any bacteria forming on it.
Clinical tools that interface with the human body like implanted medical devices, urinary and intravenous catheters cause infection due to bacterial biofilms.
A polymer based on oil-infused polydimethylsiloxane (iPDMS) absorbs silicone oil into its structure like a sponge. This oil is highly slippery, slowly being released by the polymer towards the surface. The oil prevents bacteria sticking to it, and since it's constantly seeping out the device's surface maintains its slippery and repulsive nature.
Both the polymer and the silicone oil are non-toxic and are already used extensively in medical and cosmetic industries. The coating technology represents an important first step toward a simple and effective means of preventing bacterial adhesion on a wide range of materials used for medical devices.
The iPDMS materials can be applied as a coating on other polymers or prepared by simply immersing silicone tubing in silicone oil, and are compatible with traditional sterilization methods.