Researchers have developed an antimicrobial ‘cloak’ which could play a key role in helping to protect us from the build-up of dangerous microbial biofilms.
In their paper published on the 5th of December in Scientific Reports the team found that an agar hydrogel, containing graphene-oxide and laser printed to mimic the shell surface of the Cancer pagurus crab, acts to lower growth of gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria, and fungal cells.
Biofilms, a layer of microorganisms growing on a surface, can be a massive risk to our health, especially on medical devices like scalpels and catheters. Normally we use things like antimicrobials, silver or titanium to remove this layer of growth but for these to be effective over longer periods we need to keep re-applying them, which over time can have a cumulative toxic effect on our cells. If we want to find a way around this, the main obstacles to overcome are to design a new substance which is cheap, can be applied over large and uneven surfaces and which is less toxic than these existing biofilm deterrents.
The idea of the team’s research was to try and create such a substance by combining two antimicrobial properties – those of graphene oxide and the surface features of certain animals.