Newly discovered catheter material could prevent bacterial infections

Newly discovered catheter material could prevent bacterial infections
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Researchers at the University of Nottingham have discovered a new coating that could prevent bacterial infections typically caused by biofilms on catheters.

 The new material is an acrylate copolymer and is resistant to single and multi-species bacterial infections biofilm formation, swarming, encrustation and host protein deposition, which are all major challenges associated with preventing catheter-associated urinary tract infections (CAUTIs).

This research was led by Professors Morgan Alexander and Paul Williams and was co-first authored by Jean Dubern. Professor Derek Irvine of the Centre for Additive Manufacturing, Faculty of Engineering, developed the appropriate processing regime to generate the correct copolymers.

The research is published in the journal Science Advances. 

Urinary tract catheters are commonly used

Urinary tract catheter is the most commonly used prosthetic medical device, with 15-20% of patients requiring bladder catheterisation during hospitalisation. This method promotes CAUTIs, which are responsible for around 75-80% of hospital-acquired urinary tract bacterial infections worldwide.

 The discovery of the material was made in 2012, where it prevented bacterial biofilms from being formed by Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coliP. aeruginosa and S. aureus. 

Providing new information about common bacterial infections

This new research illuminates information about the bacterial pathogen Proteus mirabilis, specifically its ability to cause catheter encrustation, which is unique to CAUTIs.

Proteus mirabilis can swarm and form large bacterial ‘rafts’ on hard surfaces that cover long distances, for example, up the length of a catheter into the bladder. Furthermore, it is also responsible for driving biomineralisation or encrustation within the catheter, which leads to blockages that can lead to serious kidney infections.

Andrew Hook, Assistant Professor, School of Pharmacy, said: “We always had this lingering question as to whether the material that we previously discovered prevented biofilm formation, could be modified to prevent swarming and biomineralisation”.

“We have tested more than 450 acrylate polymers and discovered that by combining two different monomers, we could create a new material that is all-encompassing and prevents multi-species biofilm formation, swarming and biomineralisation. This is totally unique and currently the only biomaterial capable of preventing swarming that we are aware of.”

Paul Williams, Professor of Molecular Microbiology at Biodiscovery Institute and School of Life Sciences, commented: “We were also delighted to confirm the clinical potential of our new copolymer, which resisted biofilm formation after exposure to urine from catheterised patients and was non-toxic in laboratory tests.

“Our breakthrough should be great news for clinicians and patients when it comes to urinary tract catheterisation. We’re hopeful that this could mark a step-change in the management of CAUTIs in the future and help to dramatically reduce the number of CAUTIs in patients in hospitals and other healthcare settings.”



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