We've previously heard about wound dressings that kill bacteria, but now researchers at Australia's Swinburne University of Technology are taking a different approach. They're creating a dressing material that attracts bacteria out from within the wound, so that the material and the microbes can then just be pulled off and discarded.
Led by PhD candidate Martina Abrigo, the Swinburne team started by electrospinning polystyrene fibers that were up to 100 times thinner than a human hair. Meshes of these were then placed over films of Staphylococcus aureus, a bacteria that frequently infects wounds.
Because of the optimal growing conditions offered by the mesh, the bacteria quickly moved in and attached themselves to the fibers. This was particularly true when the fibers were approximately the same diameter as the individual bacterium – when they were smaller, less bacteria were attracted.
The researchers then tried coating the nanofibers with different compounds, and seeing how Escherichia coli bacteria reacted to them. It was found that when fibers of any size were coated with allylamine, the e. coli moved onto them rapidly.
In a third test conducted in partnership with the University of Sheffield, nanofiber meshes were tested on tissue-engineered skin models. Although the results have yet to published, they are reportedly promising, and indicate that similar results could be expected with living tissue.
"We hope this work will lead to smart wound dressings that could prevent infections," says Ambrigo. "Doctors could put a nanomesh dressing on a wound and simply peel it off to get rid of the germs."
A paper on the research was recently published in the journal ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces.