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Nanoparticles Prevent Disease

Medical devices coated with selenium nanoparticles reduce the growth of a deadly hospital-borne infection.

Edyta Zielinska

Baloon catheter with stretchable electrodesFLICKR, JURVETSON

By covering implanted devices like catheters with selenium nanoparticles, researchers at Brown University have reduced the growth of Staphylococcus aureus. The study, reported last week in the Journal of Biomedical Materials Research A, provides a novel method for preventing the formation of the bacterial biofilm on the devices, which, once formed, resist clearing with antibiotics.

“The longer we can delay or inhibit completely the formation of these colonies, the more likely your immune system will clear them,” senior author Thomas Webster from Brown University said in a press release. “Putting selenium on there could buy more time to keep an endotracheal tube in a patient.”

The coating appeared to reduce the growth, in some cases by as much as 90 percent, though the experiments were performed in vitro. The next step, the investigators said, is to start testing in animals.

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