Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Stainless Peel

How to remove bacterial biofilms

03 June 2019

Stainless Peel

When you excitedly peel a promotional sticker off a shiny new book, you often get left with sticky torn remnants tainting the cover. The same tends to happen when we try to remove biofilms (pictured) – dense mats of bacteria that cause problems when they settle on medical or industrial equipment. Researchers have been trying to understand the physical properties of biofilms that make them so stubborn, and have developed a new technique for removing them. They spotted that the edges of biofilms tend to be water repellant, meaning water can be used to drive a wedge between film and surface. This use of water, plus very gentle peeling, cleanly removed biofilms like when you soak a new glass in water before removing the pesky barcode sticker. Importantly, the technique doesn’t leave any residue, meaning the film is less likely to regrow, and infections can be kept at bay.

Written by Anthony Lewis

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