Author Archives: Ian Simpson

A Material Based on Sharkskin Stops Bacterial Breakouts

asknature.org:

This is where I initially found information and got interested about my subject. What Asknature.org is, is an open source project that gathers ideas, and inventions that try to incorporate or emulate natures functional design and strategies into their own synthetic models.  The website assumes that nature, through the process of evolution and natural selection is our greatest problem solver. Mimicking what nature does to overcome its own obstacles will provide us with sustainable strategies to survive the seemingly  “unnatural” we are creating. Bellow is the link to the article about sharkskin repeling bacterial breakouts found at asknature.org.  I would encourage you to browse the site, or add to it if you have any inventions or ideas about biomimicry of your own.

http://asknature.org/strategy/bc7c8e51e74535664f4320e824936f95

www.popsci.com:

This is another site where I found another article about the Sharkskin like material that impedes bacterial breakouts.  Sharklet technologies holds the patent for this material and has not brought it to market yet.  It is continually being tested and is under the “intense” scrutiny of the FDA.  The Link to the article found at popsci.com is found below.

http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2009-10/saving-skin#

shark_2

One criticism I had for these two articles is that they really don’t go into depth about the significance of the invention or how and why it works.  They briefly suggest that shark skin repel bacterial break outs by discouraging the formation of biofilms.  Both articles then neglected to entail  what a biofilm actually is.  Biofilms are a structured community of cells that are enclosed in a self produced exopolysaccharide matrix or EPS and are associated with a surface.  Many different bacteria form biofilms.  E.coli is a commonly known bacteria that can form biofilms.  Interestingly, biofilms are formed through a phenotypic shift in the behavior of a bacterial cell which permits it from living on its own to living in a community matrix. Biofilm formation is dangerous because they increase the chronicity of infectious diseases.  Biofilms are also highly resistant to antimicrobecites such as antibiotics. Essentially what Sharklet AF does is stop the formation of biofilms. Sharklet technologies uses microtopography to map out and design the material to resemble the surface of the sharks skin.  Microbes are able to attach to this material but are unable to attach to each other and form a biofilm. The single bacterium cell will either not survive on its own or be unable to significantly infect a host body.  This material is an adhesive that can be applied to different medical operating tools, on faucets, door handles and many other medical instruments.  This material can also be thought to reduce the use of or need of antibiotics.

My other criticism is that no where in the article’s does it say what the ecological footprint of manufacturing this material might be.

I also used this article to glean information about biofilms:

Bacterial Biofilms: A Common Cause of Persistent Infections

http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/sci;284/5418/1318?maxtoshow=&hits=10&RESULTFORMAT=&fulltext=biofilm+antibiotic+resistance&searchid=1&FIRSTINDEX=0&resourcetype=HWCIT

Below is also another article about Sharklet AF.  A far more in depth read!!

http://scitation.aip.org/getpdf/servlet/GetPDFServlet?filetype=pdf&id=BJIOBN000002000002000089000001&idtype=cvips&prog=normal