In a proof-of-concept study, researchers have created a coating that can be applied to endotracheal tubes and release antimicrobial peptides that target infectious bacteria with specificity. The innovation could reduce upper-airway bacterial inflammation during intubation, a situation that can lead to chronic inflammation and a condition called subglottic stenosis, the narrowing of the airway by an accumulation of scar tissue.

Schematics of endo- tracheal tube and electron microscopy images of coated and uncoated tubes.

The investigators explored the use of antimicrobial peptides (AMPs), which are small proteins that destabilize bacterial membranes, causing bacterial cells to fall apart and die. This mechanism of action allows them to target specific bacteria and makes them unlikely to promote antimicrobial resistance.

They tested their theory by creating a polymer coating that would release Lasioglossin-III, an AMP with broad-spectrum antibacterial activity. They found that Lasio, released from coated endotracheal tubes, reached the expected effective concentration rapidly and continued to release at the same concentration for a week, which is the typical timeframe that an endotracheal is used before being changed. The investigators also tested their drug-eluting tube against airway microbes, including S. epidermidis, S. pneumoniae, and human microbiome samples and observed significant antibacterial activity, as well as prevention of bacterial adherence to the tube.

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This article first appeared in the September, 2021 issue of Medical Design Briefs Magazine.

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