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Insect wings inspire new ways to fight superbugs

Insect wings inspire new ways to fight superbugs

Common whitetail dragonfly. Public domain image by Christopher Johnson (Insects Unlocked, University of Texas at Austin)

Full article issued by RMIT University.

ARC-supported scientists have revealed how nanomaterials inspired by insect wings are able to destroy bacteria on contact, which hold promise for opening a new era of biomedical antimicrobial nanotechnology. 

The wings of cicadas and dragonflies are natural bacteria killers, a phenomenon that has spurred researchers searching for ways to defeat drug-resistant superbugs. New anti-bacterial surfaces are being developed, featuring different nanopatterns that mimic the deadly action of insect wings, which can stretch, slice or tear bacteria apart on contact.

A pioneer in biomimetic antibacterial surfaces, Distinguished Professor Elena Ivanova leads the Mechano-bactericidal Surfaces research group in the School of Science at RMIT, and is a Chief Investigator at the ARC Training Centre in Surface Engineering for Advanced Materials, and at the ARC Research Hub for Australian Steel Innovation

“If we can understand exactly how insect-inspired nanopatterns kill bacteria, we can be more precise in engineering these shapes to improve their effectiveness against infections," says Professor Ivanova.

“Our ultimate goal is to develop low-cost and scaleable anti-bacterial surfaces for use in implants and in hospitals, to deliver powerful new weapons in the fight against deadly superbugs.”



Common whitetail dragonfly. Image Credit: Christopher Johnson, Insects Unlocked, University of Texas at Austin (Public domain).

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