The Antimicrobial Properties of Zinc-Releasing Bioceramics
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Up to 80% of nosocomial infections are caused by biofilm-producing bacteria such as Staphylococci and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. These types of microorganisms can become resistant to antibiotics and are difficult to eliminate. As such, there is tremendous interest in developing bioactive implant materials that can help to minimize these post- operative infections. Using water-based chemistry, we developed an economical, biodegradable and biocompatible orthopedic implant material consisting of zinc- doped hydroxyapatite (HA), which mimics the main inorganic component of the bone. Because the crystallinity of HA is typically too compact for efficient drug release, we substituted calcium ions in HA with zinc during the synthesis step to perturb the crystal structure. An added benefit is that zinc itself is a microelement of the human body with anti-inflammatory property, and we hypothesized that Zn-doped HA is an inherently antibacterial material. All HA samples were synthesized by a co-precipitation method using aqueous solutions of Zinc nitrate, Calcium Nitrate, and Ammonium Phosphate. XRD data showed that Zn was successfully incorporated into the HA. The effectiveness of Zn-doped HA against a model biofilm-forming bacterium is currently being evaluated using a wild-type strain and a streptomycin- resistant strain of Pseudomonas syringae pv. papulans (Psp) which is a plant pathogen isolated from diseased apples.