Sharks take a Bite out of Infection! An Antibacterial, Reusable Bandage for Post-Operative Patients

By Hannah Herbst

My research is focused on the development of an antibacterial surface to combat post-operative infections. These infections occur in over 200 million patients around the world each year, including my dad, who inspired this project. At the time of my dad’s infection, I was studying the antibacterial properties of shark skin in the Florida Atlantic Biomechanics Lab. Scientists have assumed that shark skin has antibacterial properties due to the unique micropattern, called the dermal denticle micropattern. However, these properties have never been quantified.

One day, a lightbulb went off; maybe I could *metaphorically* pull the assumed antibacterial properties of shark skin out of the water and incorporate a similar micropattern onto a bandage to prevent infection!

After quantifying the anti-fouling, or bacteria resisting properties, of shark skin in open ocean water, I moved on to creating bandage prototypes. I created many different designs and failed repeatedly before reaching a successful result. To ensure the result would effectively prevent the spread and adhesion of bacteria, I conducted over 500 different trials in the Florida Atlantic Microbiology and Technology Lab to ensure they would be effective.

This research was awarded First Place and Best in Category in Translational Medical Science at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair 2019 and is patent pending.


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