In 2012, two researchers at the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom discovered a group of new materials capable of repelling bacteria. Precisely why bacteria steer clear of this material, however, is not known. Now, the scientists have each won a prestigious research award worth a combined £2 million ($3.4 million) to solve the mystery. There is a lot at stake: bacteria-resistant polymers could lead to a significant reduction in hospital infections acquired through implanted medical devices.
Morgan Alexander, Professor of Biomedical Surfaces in the School of Pharmacy and Paul Williams, Professor of Molecular Microbiology, in the School of Life Sciences at the University of Nottingham, have each received a Wellcome Trust Senior Investigator Award to conduct the joint project.
Controlling the number of infections acquired through indwelling medical devices such as catheters, intravenous tubes, and artificial joints could significantly reduce the number of medical complications, save thousands of lives a year, and reduce medical costs. The Senior Investigator Awards will fund a centre of excellence, which will study the underlying mechanisms behind the resistance these materials show to bacterial attachment and biofilm development.