Working with leading surgeons and an Australian orthopaedic medical device company, researchers from the University of Adelaide and University of South Australia will use nano-modification technology to reduce the chance of infection after orthopaedic surgery.
The bacteria-busting qualities of the dragonfly were first identified by Australian researchers who observed bacteria being killed on the insects’ wings, characterised by tiny spikes – nanopillars – which are about one thousandth of the thickness of a human hair.
The researchers are carrying out a range of groundbreaking experiments to test whether mimicking the nano-patterns of the dragonfly wing on orthopaedic implants can kill harmful bacteria that cause infections.
Professor Richard de Steiger, a leading Australian orthopaedic surgeon involved in clinical research, said implant infection post-surgery was a billion dollar problem worldwide, affecting 2 to 3 per cent of medical implants, including devices to stabilise fractures, hip and knee replacements and spinal implants.
“There hasn’t been any improvement in orthopaedic infection rates for the past 15 years, costing not only hundreds of millions of dollars in additional surgery worldwide, but more trauma for patients needing extra recovery time after a second operation, which is often less successful and poses an even greater risk of infection,” he said.
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