When microorganisms attach and grow on a surface, (e.g. medical devices - orthopaedics/catheters, wounds, drinking water pipes, food contact surfaces and showerheads) they encase themselves in an extracellular ‘slime-like’ substance composed of sugars (polysaccharides), proteins and extracellular DNA. In this state, the microorganisms become over 1000x more tolerant to antimicrobials, including antibiotics, when compared to microorganisms that are not attached to the surface i.e. swimming around, referred to as planktonic microorganisms. Historically, most antimicrobials used in medicine and other industries have been designed and developed to specifically kill microorganisms in the planktonic state only. However, many of the antimicrobials used today are now being found to be ineffective in killing microorganisms within the biofilm and breaking up the biofilm matrix, i.e. the ‘house’ of the biofilm, which has led to major issues for both the patients and also the financial costs to healthcare budgets in particular. Ineffective and inappropriate ‘not fit for purpose’ antimicrobials can increase a patient’s infection risk and also increase the risk of the patient getting sepsis and prolonging a chronic condition.
Due to this major global clinical and environmental need, 5D’s aim is focused on designing and developing antibiofilm technologies. After 2 years of intensive research, 5D has filed patents and developed an array of different innovative and smart antibiofilm technologies that can be incorporated into many different materials, chassis and platforms including medical devices for use in wound dressings, catheters and other medical products where more effective infection prevention and control innovations are urgently required. Their usage however is far reaching into many different industries.
5D’s technology is a next generation multifunctioning anti-biofilm technology with components that work synergistically to obtain a multi-modality effect. The antibiofilm complexes work a number of different ways but essentially they are all designed to break up the biofilm, release an antimicrobial agent at therapeutic levels, when required, and also release at a later stage, via a tiggering mechanism, an agent that treats the effects the biofilm causes e.g. infection and inflammation. By utilsing the bodies own responses and markers to the biofilm, the 5D smart antibiofilm technologies will only be released smartly on demand. The aim would be to prevent the indescriminate, inappropriate and overuse of antimicrobial agents and ensure only therapeutic levels are being maintained for maximum impact for treating the patients biofilm related infection.
Presently no technologies like this exist for use in medical devices. The aim is to build a large library of further patent protected ‘clever and effective’ antibiofilm technologies that 5D will be able to use in many different indutries to both prevent and control biofilms. In conjunction with this, we have and also continue to file other patents that are able to detect and monitor the therapeutic levels of the antibiofilm technologies and provide important data to both the patient and the care-giver as well as generating important and useable data for the hospitals to determine the cost-effectiveness and impact of using 5Ds antibiofilm technologies. Consequently, 5D are also focused on next generation diagnostics and the innovation and development of artifically intelligent (AI) medical devices!
For over 25 years, I have been researching the science of biofilms and studied the serious effects and impact they cause globally to human health. This has included medical device related infections, waterborne diseases, antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and chronic conditions i.e. chronic wounds (the costs of treating and managing chronic wounds alone in the United States is presently $20 Billion per year). With the ever-increasing concerns of healthcare-associated infections (HCAIs) and the accompanying rise in costs to healthcare budgets, effective antibiofilm technologies are urgently required. In conjunction with the growing concerns of antibiotic resistant bacteria, as highlighted by the Chief Medical Officer Dame Sally Davies, the importance of biofilms also warrants a heightened visibility due to their reported association with over 65% of all HCAIs and 80% of all known human infections.
The economic and social impact globally due to biofilms are enormous. For example, the recently established National Biofilms Innovation Centre (https://www.southampton.ac.uk/news/2017/11/biofilms-centre.page) reported biofilms to be:
* the leading cause of antimicrobial resistance (AMR), estimated to cost $100T in world GDP and 10 million deaths by 2050,
* a cause of many human chronic conditions, estimated to cost the NHS alone over £2bn per annum
* impacting on
o contamination, energy losses and damage
* on the £70B UK food industry,
* on the $2.8T consumer products sector
* on the $117B global coatings industry.
Due to my extensive knowledge and skills in innovating and developing medical devices over the last 20 years, I saw a major unmet customer and medical need, globally, in the area of biofilm testing, biofilm management, antibiofilm innovations and biofilm diagnostics. The logical solution was to develop a company that aimed to become the ‘one stop global solution provider’ to help all industries and public health bodies that wanted to understand biofilms, the impact they had on their industry and methods that could be employed for their control. Understanding what a biofilm is, is half the battle, but understanding how they can be prevented and controlled ‘smartly’ and having the right innovative world-class testing facilities and solutions for their specific industry is where the major unmet need is.
The impact of biofilms on the economy is becoming globally recognised as a pandemic as highlighted by the fact that major investment from governmental departments and major global industrial powerhouses for the development of antibiofilm technologies is occurring.
5D, since its initiation, has already made a significant impact on the management of biofilms, by helping many global companies, who require our expert help, to advance market penetration of their products. As a result, 5D is on a major growth trajectory and aiming to make a significant impact to a global issue and the effects biofilms have on human health and the global economy.
The innovation has been proved, a patent was filed over two years ago and we have been successful in incorporating the developed antibiofilm technology into many different chassis and platforms. Fantastic antibiofilm, antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory ability has been demonstrated as well as biocompatibility. It is anticipated that a CE mark and a 510K could be achieved in the next couple of years. We are in the process of signing both licence deals and co-development agreements with global multi-nationals to bring the next generation of antibiofilm technologies to market quickly.
That’s a challenging question as many people inspire me. It is generally not the person per se that inspires me but the behaviours they adopt. Such behaviours include drive, determination, an entrepreneurial attitude, resilience and most importantly having the ability to confront the brutal facts but never losing sight of a positive outcome.
There are many medical and industrial areas this technology can be applied to but first and foremost it has to be focused on an area that is one of the most problematic areas i.e. chronic wounds associated with diabetics. The initial aim of this technology is to develop products that will lead to the reduction of infection and amputation rates in individuals who suffer from chronic wounds. In doing so, this will help to improve the quality of a patient’s life, reduce morbidity and mortality rates and significantly reduce health care costs globally.