• Antibiotic functionalised polymers reduce bacterial biofilm and bioburden in a simulated infection of the cornea

      Doroshenko, N.; Rimmer, Stephen; Hoskins, Richard; Garg, P.; Swift, Thomas; Spencer, H.L.M.; Lord, Rianne M.; Katsikogianni, Maria G.; Pownall, D.; MacNeil, S.; et al. (2018)
      Microbial keratitis can arise from penetrating injuries to the cornea. Corneal trauma promotes bacterial attachment and biofilm growth, which decrease the effectiveness of antimicrobials against microbial keratitis. Improved therapeutic efficacy can be achieved by reducing microbial burden prior to antimicrobial therapy. This paper assesses a highly-branched poly(N-isopropyl acrylamide) with vancomycin end groups (HB-PNIPAM-van), for reducing bacterial attachment and biofilm formation. The polymer lacked antimicrobial activity against Staphylococcus aureus, but significantly inhibited biofilm formation (p = 0.0008) on plastic. Furthermore, pre-incubation of S. aureus cells with HB-PNIPAM-van reduced cell attachment by 50% and application of HB-PNIPAM-van to infected ex vivo rabbit corneas caused a 1-log reduction in bacterial recovery, compared to controls (p = 0.002). In conclusion, HB-PNIPAM-van may be a useful adjunct to antimicrobial therapy in the treatment of corneal infections.
    • Evaluation of ligand modified poly (N-Isopropyl acrylamide) hydrogel for etiological diagnosis of corneal infection

      Shivshetty, N.; Swift, Thomas; Pinnock, A.; Pownall, D.; MacNeil, S.; Douglas, I.; Garg, P.; Rimmer, Stephen (2022-01)
      Corneal ulcers, a leading cause of blindness in the developing world are treated inappropriately without prior microbiology assessment because of issues related to availability or cost of accessing these services. In this work we aimed to develop a device for identifying the presence of Gram-positive or Gram-negative bacteria or fungi that can be used by someone without the need for a microbiology laboratory. Working with branched poly (N-isopropyl acrylamide) (PNIPAM) tagged with Vancomycin, Polymyxin B, or Amphotericin B to bind Gram-positive bacteria, Gram-negative bacteria and fungi respectively, grafted onto a single hydrogel we demonstrated specific binding of the organisms. The limit of detection of the microbes by these polymers was between 10 and 4 organisms per high power field (100X) for bacteria and fungi binding polymers respectively. Using ex vivo and animal cornea infection models infected with bacteria, fungi or both we than demonstrated that the triple functionalised hydrogel could pick up all 3 organisms after being in place for 30 min. To confirm the presence of bacteria and fungi we used conventional microbiology techniques and fluorescently labelled ligands or dyes. While we need to develop an easy-to-use either a colorimetric or an imaging system to detect the fluorescent signals, this study presents for the first time a simple to use hydrogel system, which can be applied to infected eyes and specifically binds different classes of infecting agents within a short space of time. Ultimately this diagnostic system will not require trained microbiologists for its use and will be used at the point-of-care.