Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Bed Bugs

'Nanopillars' trap harmful bacteria reducing their spread

02 May 2020

Bed Bugs

Much of our skin is covered with 'friendly' bacteria – helping to ward off more harmful microbes like E.coli. Some insects like dragonflies have a different way of dealing with these microscopic pests – trapping them on a bed on tiny nanopillars. This E.coli, seen under a scanning electron microscope, is stuck on a man-made version, used to investigate why these structures are so effective. Rather than ripping the bacteria open as previously thought, these tiny prodders produce oxidative stress that can slow the bacteria down. Being trapped in this way also hinders cell division, reducing their spread. Nanopillar designs are already being tested for use as antibacterial coatings on medical devices and implants, reducing the risk of infection during vital procedures.

Written by John Ankers

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