Micro spikes on titanium help avoid bacterial infection: Aussie study

Researchers from Australia’s RMIT University have developed a micro-spike pattern on titanium surface to provide implants with effective protection from both bacteria and fungus infections.

The study, which has been published in the latest issue of Advanced Materials Interfaces, said it was inspired by the bacteria-killing spikes on insect wings.

The research team designed special spikes, each at a similar height to a bacteria cell, and etched them onto titanium implants in order to test the effectiveness of the altered titanium surface in killing multi-drug-resistant Candida.

The test showed that about half of the Candida cells were destroyed soon after contact with the surface while the other half were rendered unviable from the injuries sustained and unable to reproduce or cause infection.

“The Candida cells that were injured underwent extensive metabolic stress, preventing the process where they reproduce to create a deadly fungal biofilm, even after seven days,” said Denver Linklater, Lead Postdoctoral researcher from RMIT’s School of Science.

“They were unable to be revived in a non-stress environment and eventually shut down in a process known as apoptosis, or programmed cell death.”

Doctors use a range of antimicrobial coatings, chemicals and antibiotics to avoid infection around implants, such as titanium hips or dental prostheses. These approaches may fail to stop antibiotic-resistant strains and even increase resistance. ■

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