Graphene, along with its derivatives, has long been an interest for many scientists given its huge potential as materials for many biomedical applications. Now, one derivative, graphene oxidedubbed as the “new wonder material” has been shown to exhibit antimicrobial properties.
One very important application being explored with this discovery, is the use of graphene oxide to coat surgical tools and eventually decrease the cases of hospital acquired infections.
Graphene oxide’s antimicrobial properties is brought about by its ability to wrap around the bacteria and puncture their cell membrane, thus, causing them to stop growing and die.
“The bacteria lose their complex structure and die,” said lead authro Valentina Palmieri, as quoted by EurekAlert. Palmieri is a biotechnologist at the Universit Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in Rome. Palmieri adds that “since graphene is just carbon — a building block of life — its cytotoxicity against human cells is much lower compared to any drug-based antimicrobial therapy.”
In addition, graphene oxide is stable in a water and very eco-friendly, making it an ideal coating for surgical tools such as catheters and medical devices. It is even most effective when paired with calcium chloride, another eco-friendly compound. Current surgical tools are coated with silver and other materials that are toxic to the environment.
Future research into the wonder material will focus on determining if it will have antiobiotic effects against fungi as well.
Other than its promised biomedical applications, graphene also holds potential in future electronics and manufacturing technologies. This single-atom-thin sheet material has only been characterized in the last decade. Research into graphene even awarded Russian scientists, Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov, the 2010 Nobel Prize in Physics.
The study titled “Towards a “Green: Antimicrobial Therapy: Study of Graphene Nanonsheets Interaction with Human Pathogens” was discussed in a presentation during the event “Platform: Micro- and Nanotechnology” at the 60th Annual Meeting of the Biophysical Society Annual Meeting held in Los Angeles, California last Feb. 27 to March 2, 2016.