Development of safe multi-functional surfaces for catheters to combat biofilms (L2-3163)

Project Leader: Dr Alenka Vesel (Jozef Stefan Institute)

The project addresses urinary tract infections due to urinary catheters. These infections are the most common human health-related infections worldwide, accounting for about 40% of nosocomial infections in Europe or the United States, and the mortality associated with this infection is about 10%. These problems are mainly due to insufficient surface properties of currently used catheters, especially poor bacteriostatic properties. Shortly after infection, a biofilm begins to form on the surface of the catheter. Once the symptoms of the infection become perceptible, antibiotic treatment is rarely successful. This issue will be addressed in the project by a multidisciplinary group that includes scientists from academia, medicine and an industrial partner, which is one of the largest European catheter manufacturers. We will synthesize innovative catheters that will be coated with a layer containing bioactive compounds to improve the human biological response upon catheter implantation. The surface coating will have antibacterial properties and will prevent the growth of biofilms. Such surface treatment will be achieved by a two-step process: first, by a short treatment with gaseous plasma, we will create the appropriate surface morphology and functionalization of the surface, and then we will coat the surface with advanced coatings containing more bioactive substances. We will explore different ways of treating catheter surfaces in order to find a range of parameters suitable for the future production of innovative catheters. We will thoroughly analyze the surface of the materials before and after each treatment process. We will test the antibacterial properties of innovative catheter prototypes, as well as their cytotoxicity.