Antimicrobial coating could reduce costs of catheter infections
10 April 2012
An antimicrobial coating made from positively charged
compounds is being developed at Manchester University to reduce
infections from catheters.
The coating could eventually be applied to other
medical implants to reduce infection and would provide significant
socioeconomic benefits to health services.
Urinary tract infections (UTIs) account for 25% of all hospital
infections and cost the UK NHS around £125 million each year. The
major predisposing factor for UTIs is the presence of a urinary
catheter, upon which bacteria clump together in communities called
biofilms. Bacteria in biofilms coat themselves in a sticky substance
that provides a barrier to antibiotics, making infections difficult
to clear. If the catheter is not regularly replaced, the infection
may spread beyond the bladder, causing potentially life-threatening
complications. Catheter replacement is costly, time consuming and
causes distress to patients.
Researchers at The University of Manchester are trying to find a
new antimicrobial catheter coating that will reduce the need for
catheter replacement. They have been investigating a range of
positively charged compounds which are known to have antimicrobial
Non-contact atomic force microscopy showing the
of a glass surface coated with a positively charged
antimicrobial compound. Credit: The University of Manchester
Researcher Nishal Govindji said, "We have identified a
solution containing a group of positively charged compounds which,
in combination, are excellent at killing the bacteria such as
Escherichia coli that attach to
catheters. Observing the coating under the microscope, when applied
on to a glass surface, has given us an idea of how it might work to
prevent biofilms from forming on surfaces. This combination of
compounds is completely new and the results are very promising."
Preventing biofilm formation will not only reduce NHS costs by
prolonging the life of the catheter but also minimise possible
"If we can prevent bacteria from attaching to a catheter surface
by just an extra 24 hours, it will save a lot of money for the NHS
and most importantly, it will save a lot of stress to patients by
reducing the risk of serious infection and minimizing discomfort,"
said Ms Govindji.
"In the future, if this antimicrobial compound is successful at
coating a surface to kill bacteria that would attach to urinary
catheters, we are hopeful that we can extend its use to coat other
types of catheters and medical devices such as artificial heart
valves and other prosthetic devices," she said.