Porous hydrogel antimicrobial nanocomposites

Project description

Antimicrobial resistance is a growing challenge in medicine, particularly in wound healing and use of implanted medical devices. Non-drug antimicrobial nanoparticles are being investigated to address this challenge, as potential therapeutics, device coatings and nanocomposite biomaterial components. Antimicrobial nanoparticles of both silver and selenium have been investigated for their toxicity against a range of bacteria and mammalian cells. The specificity of these nanoparticles against Staphylococcus aureus, its drug resistant form, MRSA (Methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus), and Escherichia coli were investigated and selenium doped hydrogels have shown particular promise. The mechanisms of killing the bacteria were probed and selenium has been shown to kill bacteria by damaging its cellular membranes and cell walls.

These nanoparticles have been used as device coatings and incorporated into porous hydrogels to form nanocomposites. Macroporous hydrogels are valuable for cell culture and tissue engineering as their physical and chemical properties can be readily controlled across a wide range relevant for soft tissues. Manipulation of pore properties can be achieved via choice of fabrication methods, including 3D bioplotting and cryogelation. Mechanical, swelling and biocompatibility properties of these types of scaffolds show promise as mimics of the native tissue extracellular matrix for tissue engineering applications. Hydrogel nanocomposites combining the benefits of the macroporous hydrogel systems with tailored antimicrobial nanoparticles are being explored and developed for applications including wound healing.

Project team

Leader: Andrea O'Connor

Staff: Daniel Heath

Students: Dhee Biswas, Tao Huang

Collaborators: Neil O'Brien-Simpson, Phong Tran (QUT), Carolina Tallon (Virginia Tech), Wayne Morrison (O'Brien Institute)

Other projects

Convergence of engineering and IT with the life sciences projects

Research Centre

Particulate Fluids Processing Centre (PFPC)


Biomedical Engineering,Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering


Convergence of engineering and IT with the life sciences


antimicrobial; biomaterials; hydrogel; nanotechnology; tissue engineering