This is the tale of two biological substances-cells from mammals and bacteria. It's a story about the havoc these microscopic entities can wreak on all manner of surfaces, from mighty ships to teeth and medical devices, and how two Syracuse University researchers are discovering new ways to prevent the damage.
Under moist conditions, bacteria form what scientists call biofilms-a sticky, slimy buildup on almost any kind of surface. Biofilms can corrode the hulls of ships, produce green slime on rocks, pollute drinking water systems, form plaque on teeth and stick to medical devices implanted in humans, resulting in infection or rejection.
It's critically important, therefore, for scientists to gain a better understanding of how biofilms are formed and use that knowledge to develop surfaces that will resist such biofouling. In an unusual, interdisciplinary collaboration, SU researchers have found that if you can prevent protein from sticking to a surface, you can prevent both bacteria and mammalian cells from doing likewise. In the process, they developed a novel surface technology that scientists can use to study biofilms in ways that were not previously possible.
In a series of experiments, Yan-Yeung Luk, assistant professor of chemistry in SU's College of Arts and Sciences, and Dacheng Ren, assistant professor of biomedical engineering in SU's L.C. Smith College of Engineering and Computer Science, created a surface material on which they could manipulate and confine biofilm growth four times longer than current technologies. By further manipulating the chemical makeup of the surface, the scientists uncovered how mammalian cells and bacteria adhere to surfaces.
Their work, which is supported by grants from the National Science Foundation, was reported in the Feb. 4 online version of "ChemComm," the journal of the Royal Society of Chemistry (forthcoming in print) and in the Jan. 9 online version of "Langmuir," published by the American Chemical Society (forthcoming in print).
Luk and Ren began collaborating about three years ago, when they discovered a common thread in their individual research efforts-the desire to chemically modify surfaces to prevent biofouling. They went on to create a surface that seems to repel both bacteria and mammalian cells when the molecule is chemically applied to a surface. The surface used in the laboratory is a thin film of gold coated on a glass slide.
They explain their research in terms of land, soil and plants. "You start with a glass surface (the land); apply a thin film of gold to that surface, about 20 nanometers or five atoms thick (the soil); then top the gold with the molecules we created in the laboratory (the trees)," Luk says. "The goal is to see if the special molecules (trees) can resist or prevent protein from sticking to the overall surface. Put another way, do the trees provide an inhospitable environment for birds (the biofilm) and therefore prevent them from roosting en masse?"
The surface the researchers created in the laboratory was able to confine the growth of bacteria to surface patterns of desired, two-dimensional shapes. In other words, the researchers were able to control the growth of the biofilm with the surface material, allowing the biofilm to form in some places and restricting its growth in others. Additionally, the scientists found that when confined in two dimensions, the biofilm grew in a vertical direction.
In other experiments, the scientists discovered important differences in the way mammalian cells and bacteria attach to a surface. "Our surfaces are able to reveal that mammalian cell adhesion requires the existence of an anchor, while bacteria can adhere to almost any sticky surface," Luk says.
The researchers' discoveries and the surface technology they developed can be used to answer critical questions that previously eluded scientists and may lead to the development of improved medical implants and to new ways to prevent biofouling.
"This level of surface control has never before been achieved," Ren says. "We hope that what we have learned in the laboratory will help answer other fundamental questions in surface materials research and lead to the production of new materials for use in medicine and industry."
Judy Holmes | EurekAlert!
Further reports about: > Biofilms > Infection > Science TV > bacteria > biological substances-cells > corrode the hulls of ships > form plaque on teeth > mammalian cells > mammals > medical devices > medical implants > new surface material > pollute drinking water systems > produce green slime on rocks > rejection > water system
Watching atoms move in hybrid perovskite crystals reveals clues to improving solar cells
22.11.2017 | University of California - San Diego
Fine felted nanotubes: CAU research team develops new composite material made of carbon nanotubes
22.11.2017 | Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel
Heat from the friction of rocks caused by tidal forces could be the “engine” for the hydrothermal activity on Saturn's moon Enceladus. This presupposes that...
The WHO reports an estimated 429,000 malaria deaths each year. The disease mostly affects tropical and subtropical regions and in particular the African continent. The Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC teamed up with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME and the Institute of Tropical Medicine at the University of Tübingen for a new test method to detect malaria parasites in blood. The idea of the research project “NanoFRET” is to develop a highly sensitive and reliable rapid diagnostic test so that patient treatment can begin as early as possible.
Malaria is caused by parasites transmitted by mosquito bite. The most dangerous form of malaria is malaria tropica. Left untreated, it is fatal in most cases....
The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.
Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...
Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.
That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...
Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.
During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....
15.11.2017 | Event News
15.11.2017 | Event News
30.10.2017 | Event News
23.11.2017 | Information Technology
23.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
23.11.2017 | Life Sciences