Microalgae Transformed into Bioactive Coatings


Researchers from Flinders University have reportedly transformed a blue-green microalgae into ultrathin bioactive coatings using plasma jet technology.

According to the Australian university’s release, the latest development found that plasma assisted technology, which sustainably processes a Spirulina maxima biomass into ultrathin bioactive coatings, can be applied to wound dressings and other medical devices.

This approach could reportedly reduce the risk of reactions to silver and other nanoparticles and rising antibiotic-resistance to common commercial coatings.

Extract of S. maxima is often used as a protein supplement and to treat skin disorders, the university explains. The new technique could be readily applied to other types of natural supplements, said Dr Vi Khanh Truong, from the Flinders University Biomedical Nano-engineering Laboratory.

“We are using the plasma coating technology to turn any type of biomass—in this case Spirulina maxima—into a sustainable high-end coating,” said Truong.

“With our technology, we can transform biomass into coatings on wound dressing which and this plasma technology is the first of its kind.”

Multiple genetic changes in common bacteria, such as Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa, can lead them to become resistant to multiple antibiotics, forming what is being referred to as “superbugs.”

Co-author Krasimir Vasilev, a Matthew Flinders Professor and NHMRC Leadership Fellow and Director of the Biomedical Nanoengineering Laboratory, said that the technology offers a better solution to current commercial products, including silver, gold and copper coating. He adds that it’s an important tool to combat antibiotic resistance.

“This new, plasma facilitated downstream processing can improve extraction and purification of useful compounds from biomass without the need for harmful solvents and a lot of energy input,” said Vasilev.

“We are now exploiting avenues for commercialization of this unique technology. Currently, there is no commercial wound dressings that simultaneously fight and protect from infection, favorably modulate inflammation and stimulate healing.

The research, which was funded by ARC, NHMRC and Flinders Foundation, was recently published in the journal Small.

Recent Medical Coating Tech

In September, scientists from Rutgers University devised a method for creating coatings of biologically active materials using the industrial spray-coating process electrospray deposition.

For the research, the scientists reportedly developed a way to better control the target region within a spray zone, as well as the electrical properties of microscopic particles that are being deposited. Combined, these two features mean that more of the spray is likely to hit its microscopic target.

In electrospray deposition, manufacturers apply a high voltage to a flowing liquid, such as a biopharmaceutical, converting it into fine particles. Each of those droplets evaporates as it travels to a target area, depositing a solid precipitate from the original solution.

According to the university, coatings are becoming increasingly critical for a variety of medical applications, used on medical devices such as stents, defibrillators and pacemakers. Additionally, they are beginning to be used more frequently in new products employing biologicals, such as transdermal patches.

Rutgers notes that advanced biological or “bioactive” materials, like drugs and vaccine, can be costly to produce, especially if any of the material is wasted. This can consequently limit whether a patient can receive a given treatment.

Higher efficiencies could be the key to making electrospray deposition more appealing for the manufacture of medical devices using bioactive materials, researchers said.

Additionally, researchers say that unlike other manufacturing coating techniques like dip coating, the electrospray deposition technique is characterized as “far field,” meaning that it doesn’t need highly accurate positioning of the spray source. As a result, the equipment necessary to employ the technique for mass manufacturing would be more affordable and easier to design.


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