Virginia Tech researchers use nanostructure to fight infections from medical devices

Researchers at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg are using a nanostructure to combat infections from implantable devices by making their surface inhospitable for microbes to grow on, the Roanoke Times reports.

The nanostructure, which has tiny ridges, is 1,000 times smaller than the width of a hair and makes it challenging for infection-causing microbes to latch on, reproduce and spread. The minuscule structure is engineered on catheters and other urinary tract stents, which provide a host to most infectious microbes that come from medical devices.

The researchers tested how hundreds of different structures would perform at repelling microbes using computer simulations before they were tested in the lab.

After testing a handful of the structures in a lab to verify the simulation's accuracy, the researchers found the highest performing structure would likely be effective at repelling microbes, researcher Bahareh Behkam, PhD, a Virginia Tech mechanical engineering professor, told the Times.

The structure may one day be the leading way to stave off infections from catheters, but it is likely 10 years from full commercialization, Dr. Behkam said.

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