A newly developed nanocomposite coating can inhibit biofilm formation and kill attached bacteria, thereby helping tackle growing post-operative infections, a common occurrence these days due to antibiotic resistance in bacteria.

These post-operative surgical site infections (SSIs), which, according to WHO, affect 11 per cent of patients in low- and middle-income countries, are caused by the development of biofilms (groups of bacteria growing in formation that are highly resistant to antibiotics) on the incision site or in the soft tissue inside the site. The biofilm matrix, which may come from existing infections in the patient’s body or transferred from the hospital environment through potential carriers like surgical equipment, wound dressing, or bandage/surgical sutures, acts as a physical shield against the antibiotics given during operation, thereby slowing their penetration.

“Antibacterial coating on the surface of these materials can act as potential sources of SSI,” says a press release. Conventionally, antibacterial coatings containing biocides like nanosilver, nanocopper, triclosan, and chlorhexidine have been used to prevent bacterial infections. Although triclosan and chlorhexidine exhibit antibacterial effects towards a broad spectrum of bacteria, they and other biocides are found to produce cytotoxicity. As a result, there is an increasing focus on developing alternative non-cytotoxic materials with antibacterial properties.

Researchers from ARCI, Hyderabad, have developed a nanocomposite coating (named by ARCI as ATL), by combining water repellence and biocidal property (combinatorial approach).

The developed coating not only inhibits biofilm formation by restricting bacterial and water adhesion but also kills attached bacteria.

ATL was deposited on different surgical sutures made of silk, nylon, and polyglactin 910 (vicryl) in addition to surgical instrument-grade stainless steel 420 coupons and tested for biofilm inhibition against American Type Culture Collection (ATCC) and clinical isolate strains of proven biofilm-forming bacteria such as Pseudomonas aeruginosaAcinetobacter baumanniiStaphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli at the Translational Health Science Technology Institute and LV Prasad Eye Institute, respectively.

The ATL-coated vicryl sutures exhibited higher percentage of biofilm inhibition when compared to commercially available triclosan-coated antibacterial sutures, the release says.

Heart-friendly fruit

Garcinia pedunculata, a medicinal plant commonly called ‘borthekera’ in Assamese and traditionally forbidden for raw consumption, has been found to protect from heart disease. Administration of the dried pulp of the ripe fruit of the medicinal plant reduced cardiac hypertrophy indicators and oxidative stress and heart inflammation.

The sun-dried slices of the ripe fruit are used for culinary and medicinal purposes and are known to have therapeutic properties like anti-inflammatory, anthelmintic, antibacterial, antifungal, antidiabetic, hypolipidemic, nephroprotective, and even neuroprotective activity.

While it has been known that the plant is a rich source of antioxidants, its cardioprotective potential was not explored earlier.

Scientists at the Institute of Advanced Study in Science and Technology fed a double dosage of the bioactive chloroform fraction of the herb to Wistar rats at 24-hour intervals for 28 days. The results strongly show the cardioprotective potential of the Garcinia pedunculata fruit, which is abundantly available in north-east India.