The European Research Council (ERC) has awarded UPC researcher Maria Pau Ginebra an Advanced Grant to study the mechanisms of biomaterial and bacteria interaction and to develop surfaces that can fight infections and promote bone regeneration. The study will also have a great scientific and technological impact in very diverse fields such as catalysis, water purification and protein separation.
Bacterial infection is one of the main challenges of orthopedic and maxillofacial surgery, exacerbated by antibiotic resistance, a major global health threat that kills more than one million people per year.
Maria Pau Ginebra, a professor at the Barcelona East School of Engineering (EEBE), in the laboratory of the Biomaterials, Biomechanics and Tissue Engineering Group (BBT).
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The recent discovery of the bactericidal properties of some natural material surfaces, such as the wings of some insects, has opened a new field of research on alternatives to antibiotic-based treatments. However, there is a lack of knowledge on how to apply these advances to clinical treatments.
Now researcher Maria Pau Ginebra, head of the Biomaterials, Biomechanics and Tissue Engineering Group (BBT) of the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya - BarcelonaTech (UPC), aims to face this challenge within the framework of the project Bio-inspired AntiMicrobial Bone BIoceramics: Deciphering contact-based biocidal mechanisms (BAMBBI), for which she has received an ERC Advanced Grant, the highest award granted to groundbreaking research projects. Ginebra specialises in designing biomaterials for bone tissue regeneration. She will develop synthetic bone grafts with bactericidal surfaces that kill bacteria on contact, inspired by natural biomineralisation processes. Biomineralisation is the process by which living organisms produce mineral structures, such coral skeletons, nacre from mollusc shells and mammalian skeletons.
Using ions and organic molecules to control the growth of inorganic crystals, the project aims to very precisely control the topography of calcium phosphate-based materials at the nanometre scale. Ultimately, the project will help to advance knowledge of the mechanisms of nanotopography and surface chemistry interaction with the intrinsic properties of bacteria, which will help to design more efficient antibacterial surfaces. In addition to being a major advance in bone regeneration, progress on new methods of precise control of the nanostructure of inorganic materials will have an impact on very diverse areas, such as catalysis, water purification and protein separation, which are of great relevance for the environment and for developing energetically sustainable processes.
MEDICA-tradefair.com; Source: Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya · BarcelonaTech (UPC)