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Selenium keeps staph bacteria off implants

A coating of selenium nanoparticles significantly reduces bacteria growth on polycarbonate, a material common in implanted medical devices.

Selenium is an inexpensive element that naturally belongs in the body. It is also known to combat bacteria. Still, it had not been tried as an antibiotic coating on a medical device material.

In a new study, Brown University engineers report that when they used selenium nanoparticles to coat polycarbonate, the material of catheters and endotracheal tubes, the results were significant reductions in cultured populations of Staphylococcus aureus bacteria, sometimes by as much as 90 percent.
“We want to keep the bacteria from generating a biofilm,” says Thomas Webster, professor of engineering and orthopaedics, who studies how nanotechnology can improve medical implants. He is the senior author of the paper, published online this week in the Journal of Biomedical Materials Research A.

Biofilms are notoriously tough colonies of bacteria to treat because they are often able to resist antibiotic drugs.
 
 

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