(601b) Decreasing Medical Device Infections Using Nanotechnology, Not Drugs

Authors: 
Webster, T. J., Northeastern University

Medical device infections are increasing not decreasing, highlighting that our current approaches to fighting bacteria are flawed. Our current approach to fighting medical device infection involves the prescription of pharmaceutical agents and/or medical device removal if infection is too aggressive. This approach is not working as there is an ever increasing presence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and when medical device infection can not be stopped, the medical device needs to be removed. Nanotechnology, or the use of materials with at least one dimension less than 100 nm, may provide a non-drug approach to eliminating medical device infection. This is because nanoparticles can penetrate biofilms and bacteria when conventional drugs cannot. Moreover, nanoparticles of specific chemistry (such as iron, selenium, magnesium, ceria, zinc and silver) can elevate intra-bacteria levels to kill bacteria without affecting mammalian cell functions. In contrast, synthetic materials used as medical devices today are typically composed of millimeter or micron sized particles and/or fiber dimensions and have no ability to fight bacteria. Although human cells are on the micron scale, their individual components, e.g. proteins, are composed of nanometer features. By modifying only the nanofeatures on material surfaces without changing surface chemistry, it is also possible to decrease medical infection by increasing the endogenous adsorption of anti-bacterial adhesive proteins onto the medical device surface. Finally, nanomedicine has been shown to stimulate the growth and differentiation of stem cells, which may someday be used to further decrease implant infection since stem cells secrete factors known to kill bacteria.  This invited talk will highlight some of these advancements and emphasize current nanomaterials currently approved by the FDA for human implantation to fight bacteria growth where our current approaches have failed.