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BioElectricSurface Project

Katarzyna Kowal 1,2Łukasz Wasyluk 3Syed Tofail 1Marta Kopaczyńska 2Halina Podbielska 2

1. University of Limerick (UL), Plassey Technological Park, Limerick 02098, Ireland
2. Wrocław University of Technology, Wybrzeże Wyspiańskiego, Wrocław 50-370, Poland
3. BALTON Sp. z o.o. (BALTON), Nowy Świat 7/14, Warszawa 00-496, Poland

Acronym: BioElectricSurface

Title: Bio Electric Surface: Electrically Modified Biomaterials’ surfaces: From Atoms to Applications

Project no: 212533

Duration: 2008-10-01 – 2011-09-30


1.University of Limerick

2. Politechnika Wroclawska

3. TU Dresden

4. Danish Technological Institute

5. Univerzita Komenskeho v Bratislavie

6. Universitatea Politehnica Bucuresti

7. Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

8. Peter Brehm

9. Cook Medical

10. Akademia Medyczna we Wroclawiu

11. Balton Sp. Z .o.o.

12. National University of Ireland in Galway

Objective and methods:

The BioElectricSurface project (2008-2011) was a FP7 small/medium collaborative project that used nanotechnology and novel instrumentation to generate new scientific understanding of biological interactions at the nonbiological surfaces. In the project there were 12 collaborating Partners from seven countries: Ireland (4 partners), Poland (3 partners), Germany (1 partner), Denmark (1 partner), Slovakia (1 partner), Romania (1 partner), Israel (1 partner). The project targeted four medical applications and was successful in demonstrating prototype devices as follows:

a) MRSA-resistant textiles,

b) Plaque resistant cardiovascular stents,

c) Stone free urinary stents  and

d) Faster healing bone implants.

Given the complexity and challenges associated with medical devices and their development, it is remarkable that the BioElectricSurface developed high quality scientific knowledge and led to prototypes within the 3 years duration. One of these prototypes (textiles) is currently being licensed. The other two prototype devices (stents) are under further technological development by the respective industrial partners.

The project is a prime example of the use of nanotechnology in the field of medical devices especially in generating ground-breaking knowledge in challenging areas e.g. bio/non bio interface. The project successfully demonstrated how nanotechnology could enable new knowledge critically needed for breakthrough medical device technology. The project also demystified the field of surface charge in biomedical devices by employing innovative scientific approaches.

Thanks to the close collaboration of University of Limerick, Wroclaw University of Technology and Wroclaw Medical University durable, washable, photosterilisable MRSA resistant textiles were developed. It was demonstrated that by incorporation of specially designed nanoparticles into the textiles, it will be possible to obtain antibacterial clothes and hospital garments. Wroclaw University of Technology was a leader of the workpackage devoted to the antibacterial textiles development.

In addition to this, Wroclaw University of Technology has now become engaged into a Marie Curie IndustryAcademia Partnership with former BioElectricSurface project partners (National University of Ireland, Galway, Balton sp. z. o.o. and Wroclaw Medical University).

The project resulted in one edited book, 17 book chapters, 6 journal articles and 22 conference presentations within the duration of the project.

Polish partners: Wroclaw University of Technology and Wroclaw Medical University were key partners and leaders in 2 workpackages and successfully developed antibacterial textiles and together with Balton sp. z.o.o. new type of cardiovascular stents.


A. Scientific Achievements:

There has been the following scientific and technology breakthroughs from this project:

1. MRSA resistant textiles;

2. Plaque resistant cardiovascular stents;

3. Stone resistant Urinary stents;

4. Confirmation of piezoelectricity of synthetic bone mineral;

5. Creation of electrostatic domains in biomaterials without topographical change and

6. Prototype compact s-SNOM for biological applications

Prototype devices have been validated by industrial and clinical end users for Achievements 1-3. Achievement 1 is now very close to the commercial development due to the technology transfer by licensing. This achievement also generated huge commercial interest due to the elimination of any binder to incorporate nanoparticles into textiles. Overall this technology has been considered as a global breakthrough both scientifically, technically and commercially. Achievements 2 and 3 have been considered as technical breakthroughs by respective industrial partners who are now developing the technologies further. Achievements 4 and 5 highlighted key scientific breakthroughs and have been published in prestigious journals. The prototype s-SNOM is first of its kind and represents a key technological breakthrough for its substantial reduction of noise as well as a major scientific breakthrough due to its ability of extracting interfacial information.

Together, the achievements of this project addressed health related societal challenges, which are clearly shared by Member States of the European Union and are, in many cases, global challenges.

B. Impact Achievement:

The achievements of BioElectricSurface project are directly related to medical devices used in therapeutic applications in cardiovascular, orthopaedic and urinary applications. MRSA resistant textiles impacts hospital acquired infections such as the prevalence of MRSA superbugs which prolongs hospital stay for patients who received surgical treatments in relation to the above three and other diseases. 

The MRSA bug is one of the major causes of hospital acquired infections. In June 2007, the European Centre for Disease Prevention (ECDC) has identified anti-biotic resistant micro-organisms as the most important infectious disease threat in Europe. One in 10 patients entering a European hospital can expect to catch an infection caused by drug-resistant microbes. Every year, around 3 million people in the EU catch a healthcare-associated infection, which causes approximately 50,000 deaths. Better cleanliness and hygienic practices in hospitals can reduce such occurrence significantly. Non-surgical drapes, uniforms, bed linens, pillow covers thus form an integral part of this cleanliness and hygiene.

The breakthrough technology, MRSA resistant textiles, will significantly improve cleanliness in the hospitals and help to reduce the occurrence of hospital-acquired infections.

It is estimated that at least 10% of the population in the industrialised world is afflicted by urinary tract stone disease. The annual incidence of stones amounts to around 2000 per million inhabitants in Europe and North America. For a group of first time stone-formers, the expected risk of recurrent stone formation during a 10-year period was estimated to be 30% and in those who had formed at least two stones at the start of follow-up the corresponding figure was as high as 70%. Urinary stents deployed in these stone formers suffer from the highest level of stone encrustation that increases pain and requires further surgery. The achievement in inhibiting the stone formation will increase the patency of these urological devices by a factor of two and reduce pain and the frequency of replacing such stents with significant cost saving.

Cardiovascular disease is the cause of half of all deaths in Europe. The main form of this disease is coronary artery disease, which occurs when the coronary arteries becomes hardened and narrowed, due to the build-up of plaques on the inner walls or lining of the arteries (atherosclerosis). This causes a reduced amount of blood flow. About half of all deaths from cardiovascular diseases derive from coronary artery disease. This is the most common cause of death in Europe, accounting for two million deaths each year. Over 22% women and 21% men in Europe die from this disease. The technology developed within the project reduces the plaque growth without the use of any drug and will reduce in-stent plaque-growth.

The above achievements thus represents significant beyond the state of the art solutions to the
problems associated with European health care and will contribute to the improvement of our quality of life, longevity and productivity.

In addition to this, the commercial significance of the achievements is very high. The US and
European market size for medical textiles was estimated to be over $7 billion and current sales only meet one third of the market potential. Our anti-MRSA textile technology will be used to produce practical, economical and effective products for this huge potential market. World Health Statistics 2007 show that there are 7.94 million nurses registered in Europe and USA. Assuming the average cost of a standard reusable uniform to be around $40, the team estimates a total annual value of $634 million for this segment alone. The medical device industry contributes to over 1% of the total EU-25 manufacturing value added and to over 1% of the total EU-25 manufacturing employment. This sector has sustained the wave of economic down turn and has a potential to grow at a rate of over 15% per annum. Two of the industrial partners of the BioElectricSurface consortium, COOK Medical, Ireland and Balton Ltd., Poland are important players in the in-dwelling medical device market. The achievements from this project will bolster their innovativeness, enhance competitiveness and sustain and promote employment.

Together, on economic terms, the achievements of the BioElectricSurface project directly impact a market that is over €5 b in size. The MRSA-resistant textiles is a product close to the market. A license deal has been negotiated to capture a part of the applications. A spin out company tis envisaged towards the end of 2013 that will commercialise the technology in the remaining fields of applications. This is a significant achievement for a small and medium scale project.

The BioElectricSurface project has received wide media attention and its key results have been disseminated to reach the wider public as well as the immediate scientific audience. Partners contributed to a book published by the Royal Society Chemistry (RSC). This book has been awarded the Book of the Month prize in August 2012 by the RSC. MRSA resistant textiles in particular received huge public attention in Irish and Polish television networks and satellite channels.

C. Achievements on EU Approach:

MRSA resistant textiles, cardiovascular coatings and urinary stents have been tested under International standards such as the IATCC standards for antimicrobial textiles, ASTM standards for cardiovascular and urinary stents. These tests have been performed in collaboration with the relevant end-users and industry partners. Research samples from BioElectricSurface e.g. nanocrystalline hydroxyapatite have been independently tested by a number of peers in Europe (Aveiro, Portugal and Linz, Austria) and Asia (Hong Kong, Peoples Republic of China). So the research results and solutions are applicable across Europe and beyond. Besides, a number of project achievements have been led by the New Member States of the European Union, who at the time of the project commencement were not very active in biomedical device research. The project demonstrated their ability to contribute to and even lead in ground breaking research related to medical devices.

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Related papers

Presentation: Polish Research Projects at Nano and Advanced Materials Workshop and Fair, by Katarzyna Kowal
See On-line Journal of Nano and Advanced Materials Workshop and Fair

Submitted: 2013-06-25 17:42
Revised:   2013-08-22 16:29