Glossary of Terms
Antimicrobials - Typically liquids that kill or inhibit the growth of microorganisms such as bacteria and fungi.
Bacterial biofilm - Densely packed communities of thin, slimy films of bacteria that surround themselves with secreted polymers and adhere to surfaces. This ranges from things like film on your teeth, germs on touch screens or growths on medical devices.
Hydrogel - A network of highly absorbent natural or synthetic polymer chains that are hydrophilic.
Polymer - A substance that has a molecular structure built up chiefly or completely from a large number of similar units bonded together.
Self-Assembly - The process by which molecules adopt a defined arrangement without guidance or management from an outside source
VIDEO: What is a biofilm?
PHOTO: MRSA biofilm disrupted by hydrogel
On the left is a mature and healthy MRSA biofilm. After the hydrogel is applied, the biofilm is destroyed as seen on the right. The small portion of cells left have drastically disrupted membrane, preventing resistance. This type of biofilm disruption has not been reported in other antimicrobial hydrogels/synthetic polymers. Photo Credit: IBN
PHOTO: Polymer solution in gel form
The polymer solution, shown above in a remoldable gel form after heated to body temperature, is injectable for targeted treatment of bacterial infections and causes no adverse side effects. Photo Credit: IBN
On January 24 scientists from IBM Research and the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology will unveil the details behind an antimicrobial hydrogel that can break through diseased biofilms and completely eradicate drug-resistant bacteria upon contact. The synthetic hydrogel, which forms spontaneously when heated to body temperature, is the first-ever to be biodegradable, biocompatible and non-toxic, making it an ideal tool to combat serious health hazards facing hospital workers, visitors and patients
This research is an important discovery because bacterial biofilms contribute significantly to hospital-acquired infections, which are among the top five leading cause of death in the United States and account for $11 billion in healthcare spending each year.
This new invention was jointly conceptualized by IBM and the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology in Singapore, and the breakthrough combines chemistry and bioengineering approaches to develop a new delivery mechanism for medications that could make them more effective.
Read the feature story here: http://research.ibm.com/articles/hydrogel.shtml
The news and research is under embargo until 12:01am ET on Thursday, January 24.
VIDEO: IBM and IBN develop antimicrobial hydrogels
Bacterial biofilms appearing on the skin and on medical devices and household surfaces are difficult to treat and demonstrate high resistance to antibiotics. Antimicrobial hydrogels developed by IBM Research and the Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology demonstrate 100% efficiency in destruction of these biofilms, with application potential for catheter and medical device coatings, implants, skin and everyday surfaces.
PHOTO: Polymer solution is ninety-percent water
The polymer solution is free flowing (b, d) at room temperature (71 degrees F). When heated to body temperature (98.6 degrees F), the polymers self-assemble into a cross-linked network, causing the solution to form a gel (c, e).
Photo Credit: IBM