A 3D antimicrobial surface reduces bacteria buildup on medical equipment, like urinary catheters. (Credit: Monash University)

Researchers have engineered new antimicrobial surfaces that can significantly reduce the formation of bacteria on medical instruments, such as urinary catheters, and reduce the risk of patient infection while in hospital. This study demonstrates the potential for 3D engineered surfaces in preventing the initial formation of microcolonies of Escherichiacoli (E.coli), Klebsiellapneumoniae, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa — the three most common urinary tract bacterial infections (UTIs) associated with catheters.

Through an extensive screening process, researchers identified that the sharp corners of the vertical side walls within the conventional micropatterned surfaces gifted bacteria with perfect hiding spots to shelter themselves against the flow of fluids which could wash them away.

Their 3D engineered microtopographies with varying heights and smooth curved cross-sections can simultaneously deter both the initial attachment and the formation of biofilms for three clinically relevant bacteria. The researchers hypothesize that by smoothing out these corners, the bacteria would be left with nowhere to hide.

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