Study and development of a 'smart' wound dressing technology which can detect and inhibit/kill the colonisation of pathogenic bacteria

  • Jin Zhou

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


Bacterial infections are a serious problem for patients with burns and other wounds. Such burn wound infection accounts for the pathogenic bacteria by colonising onto burned areas. Therefore, the need for detection and inhibition of such bacterial colonisation requires a methodology for sensing/killing pathogenic bacteria.This research project aims to design a ‗smart‘ wound dressing system which can respond to the microbiological environment of the wound via a simple colour change and will release antimicrobials only when required. Two strains of pathogenic bacteria Staphylococcus aureus (MSSA 476) and Pseudomonas aeruginosa (PAO1) were used in the study. The non-pathogenic bacterium E.coli (DH5α) was used as a control organism as it does not secrete virulence factors and therefore does not lyse membranes of vesicles. The key contributions of this thesis are outlined below.Firstly, an initial responsive nanocapsule system was studied. The fundamental work with giant unilamellar vesicles proved such a responsive system can provide antimicrobial properties when antimicrobial agents were encapsulated within the vesicles.Secondly, partially polymerised vesicles—polydiacetylene/phospholipid vesicles were then developed to improve vesicle stability. The vesicle system was optimised by varying molar concentration of diacetylene monomers (TCDA) in order to obtain relatively stable vesicles as well as sensitivity to the toxins secreted by the pathogenic strains. Measurements proved that the polydiacetylene/phospholipid vesicles can respond to pathogenic bacteria when fluorescent dye/antimcirobials were encapsulated in the vesicles.Finally, a simple prototype dressing was constructed. Plasma polymerised maleic anhydride (pp-MA) deposited onto non-woven polypropylene was shown to be a good method to stabilise vesicles via covalent bonding. Vesicle adhered to pp-MA non-woven polypropylene showed the ability to inhibit/kill the pathogenic strains, quantified by the Japanese Industry Standard assay and also gave a fluorimetric colour response in the presence of pathogenic bacteria when a fluorescent dye is encapsulated within vesicles. Other simple prototypes were also attempted by using hydrogels (gelatine and collagen) to maintain vesicle stability as well as promote tissue healing.
Date of Award1 Nov 2011
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorToby Jenkins (Supervisor)


  • phospholipid/polydiacetylene vesicles
  • responsive nanocapsules
  • burn wound infection

Cite this