Scientists from Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materias Science and Technology (EMPA) have developed cellulose membranes armed with antimicrobial peptides to fight bacterial wound infections. Initial results show that the skin-friendly membranes made of plant-based materials kill bacteria very efficiently.
Bacterial attack on wounds can cause a serious infection that may fail to heal or can spread throughout the body, leading to lethal blood poisoning (sepsis).
As the antibiotic resistance is becoming more and more widespread, especially in complex wounds, as bacteria such as staphylococci have become resistant to what was once the miracle weapon of medicine, EMPA scientists add.
Therefore, Swiss scientists have developed cellulose membranes, which can eliminate these infections early on.
The team directed by EMPA researcher Katharina Maniura from the Biointerfaces lab in St. Gallen fashioned fine membranes from cellulose with electrospinning technology.
With a diameter of less than one micrometer, the cellulose fibers were spun into a delicate multidimensional, three-dimensional fabric. The membranes became flexible and stable after the researchers had added the polymer polyurethane to the spinning process.
In addition, to attain an antibacterial outcome, the researchers designed multifunctional peptides – which scientists say, can bind to cellulose fibers and show antimicrobial activity.
Also, peptides have several advantages compared to bigger proteins: they are easier to produce and more steady than proteins, which react more delicately to the chemical conditions in a wound.
If the cellulose membranes are treated with such a peptide solution, the fiber frame will become soaked with peptides. In cell culture experiments, the researchers then revealed that the peptide-containing membranes are well accepted by human skin cells.
Though, the cellulose membranes were a death sentence for bacteria such as staphylococci, which are often found in ill healing wounds.
“In bacterial cultures, over 99.99% of the germs were killed by the peptide-containing membranes,” Maniura adds.