Novel coating prevents biofilm formation on dental implants

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Graphene coating that releases antibacterial acid prevents formation of biofilm on dental implants


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Usnic acid (yellow) is integrated into the graphene coating of the implant and released by it. It destroys the bacteria (green) and thus prevents them from forming infectious biofilms on the surface. (Image: Yen Strandqvist/Chalmers)

GOTHENBURG, Sweden: Biofilm formation on dental implants is a major challenge for dental professionals. It causes patients great inconvenience and entails considerable costs. Now, by covering a graphene-based material with bactericidal molecules, researchers from Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg have developed a novel material designed to prevent infections.

A variety of drugs and molecules with antibacterial properties are available on the market; however, for them to be used in the body, they first have to be attached to a material which can be challenging and labour-intensive to produce. First author Dr Santosh Pandit from the Department of Biology and Biological Engineering at Chalmers explained in a university press release: “Graphene offers great potential here for interaction with hydrophobic molecules or drugs, and when we created our new material, we made use of these properties. The process of binding the antibacterial molecules takes place with the help of ultrasound,” said Pandit.

The researchers covered graphene material with usnic acid, which shows—according to previous studies—good bactericidal properties. In addition, it has been tested for its resistance to the pathogenic bacteria Staphylococcus aureus and Staphylococcus epidermidis, which are known to cause biofilm formation on medical implants.

The usnic acid was successfully integrated into the surface of the graphene material, and the researchers observed that the usnic acid molecules were released in a controlled and continuous manner, thereby preventing the formation of biofilms on the surface. “This is an essential requirement for the method to work,” explained Pandit.

Pandit added that the results show that the method for binding the hydrophobic molecules to graphene is simple. “It paves the way for more effective antibacterial protection of biomedical products in the future. We are now planning trials where we will explore binding other hydrophobic molecules and drugs with even greater potential to treat or prevent various clinical infections,” he continued.

The study, titled “Sustained release of usnic acid from graphene coatings ensures long term antibiofilm protection”, was published on 11 May 2021 in Scientific Reports.

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