The team, from the National University of Ireland Galway, showed that stabilized collagen scaffolds loaded with a particular antibiotic were able to prevent both Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus epidermidis from forming (Biomed. Mater. 12 035013).

"Implant infections remain a major healthcare problem. They can require long hospitalization periods to disturb and treat bacterial biofilm formation. There can also be a need for additional surgeries to remove or replace the infected implant, which if not done in time may lead to sepsis," explained lead author Dimitrios Zeugolis, from NUI Galway's Regenerative, Modular & Developmental Engineering Laboratory (REMODEL) and the SFI Centre for Research in Medical Devices (CÚRAM).

"Although localized drug treatment, via an implanted scaffold has shown promise, the ideal scaffold cross-linking (to initially withstand the aggressive infection environment) and drug (to fight against infection) have not, until now, been found," said Zeugolis.

The team first developed a collagen scaffold, with a 0.625% concentration of hexamethylene diisocyanate (HDI) used to stabilize it. They then tested the scaffolds with variable concentrations of the antibiotics Cefaclor and Ranalexin.

Zeugolis said: "Both drugs showed similar loading efficiency, release profile and cytocompatibility. However, only collagen scaffolds loaded with 100 µg/ml of Cefaclor showed adequate antibacterial properties against both E-coli and Staphylococcus epidermidis.

"Our cross-linked collagen scaffold marks an important step forward against a problem that is both a major health problem and a severe economic burden to healthcare systems internationally."

Related stories

• Nanoparticles resurrect antibacterial drugs
• A longer-lasting bioprosthetic heart valve
• Graphene oxide helps fight infections
• Patterned surfaces boost implant success