About the Project
Numerous strategies have been investigated, with limited success, for reducing bacterial adherence and biofilm formation at the surface of polymeric drug delivery and medical devices. In this project, we aim to exploit our detailed understanding of the chemistry of silicone elastomers to develop a new method for grafting protective molecules to the surface of pre-fabricated medical and drug delivery devices to reduce bacterial adherence and biofilm formation when inserted in vivo.
We have previously reported that drug molecules having certain chemical functional groups are able to chemically and irreversibly bind to the most common type of silicone elastomer (known as an addition-cure silicone elastomer). Briefly, drugs with certain unsaturated moieties are able to react with the highly reactive hydrosilane groups contained in the silicone elastomer, in competition with the normal silicone elastomer crosslinking reaction. This reaction is a hindrance to drug product development, since the bound drug can no longer be released from the device. However, it may be possible to exploit this reaction to purposefully attach modifying groups to the surface of silicone elastomer devices. In particular, this may prove a viable and practical strategy for modifying the surface of the device in order to reduce bacterial biofilm formation.
A particularly interesting concept would involve the grafting of specially-functionalised polymers and dendron molecules to the silicone elastomer surface in a bid to significantly modify the surface characteristics of the silicone elastomer and to create an effective barrier to incoming proteins and microorganisms, with the aim of developing materials offering resistance to bacterial attachment and subsequent biofilm formation. The cross-disciplinary project will provide an excellent opportunity for extensive training in a diverse range of scientific disciplines, including basic chemistry, polymer science, microbiology, advanced analytical methods and medical device fabrication.
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