Bacteria scared of the light

20 December 2006

Antibacterial nanofabrics that kill the bacterium E.Coli when exposed to light could revolutionise drug packaging, wound dressing and other areas in which keeping a sterile environment is essential.

The news is reported in the latest edition of the Royal Society of Chemistry's Journal of Materials Chemistry.

E.Coli (full name Escherichia coli) can cause several serious diseases, including meningitis, peritonitis, septicemia, pneumonia and urinary tract and intestinal infections.

Dr Jirí Mosinger and his team at the Charles University in Prague attached chemicals called porphyrins to the polymer nanofabrics.

When exposed to UV light, the porphyrins covert oxygen from its usual state in the air to a highly reactive form called singlet oxygen, which is a very strong oxidising agent and thus has potent antibacterial properties.

Dr Mosinger's team tested the materials by placing the nanofabrics onto plates of agar jelly contaminated with E.Coli. Plates left in the dark overnight were covered by E.Coli, but those left in UV light had no bacteria on or around the nanofabrics. 

Nanofabric made from polymer fibres

Porphyrin molecules attached to polymer nanofibres add an antibacterial touch

Professor Jonathan Sessler, an expert in molecular engineering based at the University of Texas, said: "This effect could make these new materials of use in a range of areas where sterility needs to be maintained or enforced, including drug packaging or wound dressings."

Dr Mosinger said that another advantage of the antibacterial nanofabrics is that they are environmentally friendly.

He said: "The nanofabrics are non-polluting and the embedded porphyrin sensitizer is non-toxic."

with thanks to Sophia Anderton for the original article 


Bactericidal nanofabrics based on photoproduction of singlet oxygen  J Mosinger, O Jirsák, P Kubát, K Lang and B Mosinger Jr., J. Mater. Chem., 2007 DOI: 10.1039/b614617a

Bacteria afraid of the light

Polymer nanofibres with embedded porphyrins have an antibacterial effect.

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