The drugs don’t work… Graphic: bacteria are sliced apart by the sharp graphene flakes and killed (Credit: Yen Strandqvist/ Chalmers University of Technology).
Perhaps engineers can help, by giving drug-resistant bacteria nowhere to hide. Technological breakthroughs are helping biomedical researchers to create smart surfaces and diagnostic tools that can help detect infection, and prevent the spread of deadly disease.
Hip replacements and dental implants have become increasingly common, and most surgeries happen without any complications. One of the biggest risks remains that of bacterial infection, but researchers in Sweden think they’ve found a way to handle that.
Their solution relies on a thin layer of graphene flakes that is applied to the surface of an implant. The researchers, from Chalmers University of Technology, were not the first to try graphene, but in the past it had yielded mixed results.
“We discovered that the key parameter is to orient the graphene vertically,” explains Professor Ivan Mijakovic from the university’s department of biology and biological engineering. “If it is horizontal, the bacteria are not harmed.”