Photodynamic antimicrobial polymers for infection control

Colin P McCoy, Edward J O'Neil, John F Cowley, Louise Carson, Aine T De Baróid, Greg T Gdowski, Sean P Gorman, David S Jones

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)
372 Downloads (Pure)


Hospital-acquired infections pose both a major risk to patient wellbeing and an economic burden on global healthcare systems, with the problem compounded by the emergence of multidrug resistant and biocide tolerant bacterial pathogens. Many inanimate surfaces can act as a reservoir for infection, and adequate disinfection is difficult to achieve and requires direct intervention. In this study we demonstrate the preparation and performance of materials with inherent photodynamic, surface-active, persistent antimicrobial properties through the incorporation of photosensitizers into high density poly(ethylene) (HDPE) using hot-melt extrusion, which require no external intervention except a source of visible light. Our aim is to prevent bacterial adherence to these surfaces and eliminate them as reservoirs of nosocomial pathogens, thus presenting a valuable advance in infection control. A two-layer system with one layer comprising photosensitizer-incorporated HDPE, and one layer comprising HDPE alone is also described to demonstrate the versatility of our approach. The photosensitizer-incorporated materials are capable of reducing the adherence of viable bacteria by up to 3.62 Log colony forming units (CFU) per square centimeter of material surface for methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), and by up to 1.51 Log CFU/cm2 for Escherichia coli. Potential applications for the technology are in antimicrobial coatings for, or materials comprising objects, such as tubing, collection bags, handrails, finger-plates on hospital doors, or medical equipment found in the healthcare setting.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere108500
JournalPloS one
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2014


  • Photosensiter
  • Antimicrobial
  • Polymer
  • Polyethylene


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