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Gabriel Lopez, Ph.D.

AIMBE College of Fellows Class of 2011
For outstanding contributions in development of bioanalytical systems and biointerfacial phenomena with application in biotechnology, medical diagnosis and environmental monitoring.

Catheter Innovation Destroys Dangerous Biofilms

Via Duke Biomedical Engineering | March 25, 2014

For the millions of people forced to rely on a plastic tube to eliminate their urine, developing an infection is nearly a 100 percent guarantee after just four weeks. But with the help of a little bubble-blowing, biomedical engineers hope to bring relief to urethras everywhere.

About half of the time, the interior of long-term urinary catheters become plagued by biofilms—structures formed by colonies of bacteria that are extremely difficult to kill. Once established, it is only a matter of time before the biofilm becomes a welcoming host for other, more dangerous bacteria or begins to choke urine drainage, causing leakage—or even trauma to the patient’s body.

Duke University engineers have developed a new urinary catheter design that can eliminate nearly all of the hard-to-kill biofilm from the catheter’s walls. Instead of focusing on expensive antibacterial coatings, the researchers use physical deformation to knock the infectious film from its moorings.

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