Updated: 01/24/2013 22:23

First-ever hydrogel that can eliminate various types of bacteria and fungi unveiled

First-ever hydrogel that can eliminate various types of bacteria and fungi unveiled

Researchers from the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (IBN) and IBM Research today unveiled the first-ever antimicrobial hydrogel that can destroy multidrug-resistant superbugs. 

They say the discovery may be used in healing wounds, medical device and contact lens coating, skin infection treatment and dental fillings. 

The new gel is comprised of the novel polymer material jointly developed by IBN and IBM Research in 2010. 

When mixed with water and heated to body temperature, the polymers form spontaneously into a moldable gel due to the self-associative interactions between the polymer molecules.

This allows the hydrogel to target multidrug-resistant biofilms at various parts of the body and surfaces without being flushed away. 

Once the antimicrobial function is activated and performed, the biodegradable gel can be naturally eliminated by the body. 

The researchers say tests have already demonstrated the effectiveness of the novel synthetic material in eliminating various types of bacteria and fungi that are leading causes of microbial infections, and preventing them from developing antibiotic resistance. 

IBN Executive Director Professor Jackie Y. Ying said, "As a multidisciplinary research institute, IBN believes that effective solutions for complex healthcare problems can only emerge when different fields of expertise come together. Our longstanding partnership with IBM reflects the collaborative creativity across multiple platforms that we aim to foster with leading institutions and organisations. By combining IBN's biomaterials expertise and IBM's experience in polymer chemistry, we were able to pioneer the development of a new nanomaterial that can improve medical treatment and help to save lives." 

Dr Yi-Yan Yang, Group Leader at IBN said, "The mutations of bacteria and fungi, and misuse of antibiotics have complicated the treatment of microbial infections in recent years. 
Our lab is focused on developing effective antimicrobial therapy using inexpensive, biodegradable and biocompatible polymer material. With this new advance, we are able to target the most common and challenging bacterial and fungal diseases, and adapt our polymers for a broad range of applications to combat microbial infections."

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