Nanomedicine: promises and pitfalls 3

Published on September 30, 2015   36 min

Other Talks in the Series: Nanomedicine

DR. THOMAS J. WEBSTER, Ph.D.: I'll make a little bit of a transition to talking, now, more about medical devices. So how can we use nanomedicine to keep bacteria from growing on medical devices? And I mentioned this earlier that this is a huge problem because infection of implants are actually increasing, not decreasing. And, again, this is because our approach to kill bacteria to date has been to develop pharmaceuticals or antibiotics. And these antibiotics are killing the bacteria initially, but eventually the bacteria develop a resistance to these antibiotics. So we think in nanomedicine that this approach is flawed. And we really cannot keep on developing new antibiotics to kill bacteria because they are going to constantly mutate and develop a resistance to the antibiotics that we develop. We think nanomaterials, or nanomedicine, has a huge promise for killing bacteria, for keeping bacteria from attaching to a surface. So I'm about to talk about a particular chemistry called silicon nitride, in which you can basically take the surface of a radio-opaque material, like silicon nitride, and create nano-scale features on that material to keep bacteria from attaching. This is initially an approach that we came up with to promote radio-opacity. If, again, you think about the original argument we made for nanomaterials, their novelty resides in their increased surface area. So if you take a material that is radio-opaque and you increase its surface area, you actually will increase radio-opacity. It'll show up much brighter on an x-ray simply by increasing nanoscale features on the surface. One question we then asked is, that's great, We can increase radio-opacity, but how do cells respond to these increased surface area materials, to these materials that have nanoscale features?