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‘World-First’ Polymer Prevents Bacterial Biofilm Formation in Water Systems

Article-‘World-First’ Polymer Prevents Bacterial Biofilm Formation in Water Systems

naumoid/iStock via Getty Images PVC pipes
The plastic construction material can be applied via spray coating, dipping, or 3D-printing techniques.

A new polymer that prevents bacterial biofilm formation in water systems and other products could save thousands of lives, according to researchers at England’s University of Nottingham. Bactigon/KELT-7, developed in collaboration with Glasgow-based medical-biotech company Angel Guard, is being called a “world-first” polymer that reduces the risk of deadly infections without the need for antibiotics or other toxic diffusible agents.

The new anti-biofilm polymer is a vital tool to not only protect water systems, where it will be initially used, but also to protect public health at large, according to a news release published on the University of Nottingham website. Its unique specifications allow it to be used as a plastic construction material that can be applied via spray coating, dipping, or 3D-printing techniques. This versatility further expands the range of possible applications, according to the release.

Unlike silver and zinc additives, the new polymer prevents bacterial pathogen biofilm growth even when submerged in water, making it an attractive option for use in water pipes, sanitary fixtures, fittings, and plumbing systems, among many other applications.

Commenting on the collaboration with Angel Guard, Professor Derek Irvine of the materials chemistry department in the university’s faculty of engineering said that it allowed academic researchers to “develop some of our paradigm changing fundamental research into real-world impact. It is a very strong example of how knowledge transfer and exchange with industry can have benefits for people all over the world.”

A key challenge in the development of the material was finding an anti-biofilm polymer that could withstand high temperatures in-line with current hot cleaning procedures. The durable new polymer with anti-biofilm properties was designed and shown to be able to coat O-rings used in potable water systems using a simple dip-coating procedure.

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