Daniel Levin

United States of America

Regeneron ISEF, Society for Science and the Public

Biosynthetic Engineering of Novel Multifunctional Electroactive Bacterial Cellulose-Carbon Nanotube Therapeutic Bandages for Rapid Clearance of Vancomycin-Intermediate Staphylococcus aureus.

Staphylococcus aureus hospitalizes over 320,000 people yearly, is becoming increasingly resistant to antibiotics like vancomycin, and can stop wounds from healing. In this study, bacterial cellulose-carbon nanotube (BC-CNT) bandages were engineered to produce electrochemical species, which rapidly eliminated vancomycin-intermediate S. aureus. To create the bandages, the bacteria K. sucrofermentans was cultured to synthesize a BC membrane. Then, CNTs—one of the most electrically conductive materials at room temperature—were integrated into decellularized BC. This created stable and electrically conductive BC-CNT bandages. The electrical properties were then modeled and used to design circuitry throughout the bandages. When S. aureus was exposed to the electrified bandages for just an hour, its biofilm-forming capacity decreased by over 91% and displayed increased antibiotic susceptibility. This effect was most prominent in areas of reduced pH, implying that the electric signals generate antimicrobial compounds and disrupt transcellular charge gradients that underpin S. aureus homeostasis. These results advance applications of electrochemistry in medicine and create a new direction to overcome antibiotic-resistant infections.