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Graphene can kill bacteria on surgical implants: study

Press Trust of India  |  London 

A tiny layer of flakes can act as a deadly weapon against bacteria, and stop during procedures such as implant surgery, according to researchers, including one of Indian-origin.

Operations for surgical implants, such as hip and or dental implants, have increased in recent years, said researchers at of Technology in Sweden.

However, in such procedures, there is always a risk of bacterial In the worst case scenario, this can cause the implant to not attach to the skeleton, meaning it must be removed, they said.

"We want to prevent from creating an Otherwise, you may need antibiotics, which could disrupt the balance of normal and also enhance the risk of antimicrobial resistance by pathogens," said Santosh Pandit, postdoc at

travel around in fluids, such as blood, looking for a surface to cling on to. Once in place, they start to grow and propagate, forming a protective layer, known as a biofilm.

In the study published in the journal Advanced Materials Interfaces, researchers have shown that a layer of vertical flakes forms a protective surface that makes it impossible for bacteria to attach.

Instead, bacteria are sliced apart by the sharp flakes and killed.

Coating implants with a layer of graphene flakes can therefore help protect the patient against infection, eliminate the need for antibiotic treatment, and reduce the risk of implant rejection.

The osseointegration - the process by which the bone structure grow to attach the implant - is not disturbed. In fact, the graphene has been shown to benefit the bone cells.

The sharp flakes do not damage human cells. The reason is simple: one bacterium is one micrometer - one thousandth of a millimetre - in diameter, while a human cell is 25 micrometers.

"Graphene has high potential for But more research is needed before we can claim it is entirely safe. Among other things, we know that graphene does not degrade easily," said Jie Sun, an at

Good bacteria are also killed by the graphene. But that is not a problem, as the effect is localised and the balance of microflora in the body remains undisturbed, researchers said.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Mon, April 16 2018. 16:45 IST