Spreading a small amount of Manuka honey between layers of surgical mesh could prevent bacterial infections after an operation, found a recent study. The team of researchers held a study published in the academic journal Frontiers under the title Potential of Manuka Honey as a Natural Polyelectrolyte to Develop Biomimetic Nanostructured Meshes With Antimicrobial Properties.
Meshes are used to help promote soft tissue healing but they carry an increased risk of infection as the bacteria are able to get hold inside the body by forming a biofilm on the surface of the mesh. Skin and soft tissue infections are common bacterial infections and a significant proportion of such infections is due to the secondary infections occurred after surgery. Treatment of those infections using antibiotics led to the emergence of ‘superbugs’.
Manuka honey, as an alternative, acts as a natural antibiotic when layered between the meshes. The international team of scientists and engineers led by Dr Piergiorgio Gentile at Newcastle University, UK, and Dr Elena Mancuso, at Ulster University, found that sandwiching eight nano-layers of Manuka honey between eight layers of a polymer can create an electrostatic nanocoating. Such nanocoating inhibits bacteria for up to three weeks as the honey is slowly released.
“Once the bacteria form a biofilm on the surface, it’s very difficult to treat the infection. By sandwiching the honey in a multilayer coating on the mesh surface and slowly releasing it, the aim is to inhibit the growth of the bacteria and stop the infection before it even starts,” said Dr Gentile.
“ Honey has been used to treat infected wounds for thousands of years but this is the first time it has been shown to be effective at fighting infection in cells from inside the body,” he added.
Dr Mancuso, a lecturer within the Nanotechnology and Integrated Bioengineering Centre (NIBEC) at Ulster University, said the team demonstrated the promising combination of a naturally-derived antibacterial agent with a nanotechnology approach, which may be translated to the design and development of novel medical devices with advanced functionality.