Sharklet is a synthetic model of shark skin with the hopes of creating a surface resistant to bacterial colonization and growth. Shark skin consists of dermal denticles, small tooth-like projections that help increase hydrodynamics, reduce drag, and prevent microbial colonization. The goal for the Sharklet technology is to model the denticle pattern and hopefully reduce bacterial growth in high contact areas to reduce the risk of passing on pathogens to patients and health care workers without the addition of potentially toxic chemicals.
One study decided to investigate the efficacy of the Sharklet technology on reducing the growth of methicillin-sensitive Staphylococcus aureus (MSSA) and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) compared to smooth control surfaces and antimicrobial copper, another antibacterial growth application also being implemented in hospitals and clinics. They grew and cultured the bacteria in lab and replicated three different application assays to mimic the possible real-world scenarios: spray inoculation assay, immersion inoculation assay, and touch transference inoculation assay. The spray assay was to replicate transferral by sneezing or diffuse bacterial spread. The immersion assay imitated high concentration, direct contact, and touch transference was to model bacterial translocation via health care and patient contact. The mass and number of colonies were calculated, and microscopy analysis was used to compare bacterial colonization and survivorship amongst the tested and control assays. Three replicates per surface type were taken and repeated at least three times. Results underwent log transformation, log reduction, t-Test and ANOVA statistical analyses in order to determine significance among samples, strains, and surface types.
The results of the experiment were consistent with predictions of vastly reduced bacterial colonization on the Sharklet micropattern surfaces. The MSSA strain showed a significant 99% decrease in number of organisms, and the MRSA also showed a significant reduction by 98%. The study also looked at organism persistence on the spray inoculation and immersion assays. Again, MSSA and MRSA both showed visibly significant reductions in organism persistence when compared to the smooth control surfaces.
A third test looked at transfer and persistence to further mimic real-world scenarios, measuring colony growth after 0 minutes (transfer) and 90 minutes (persistence). The transfer of the MSSA strain reduced by 87% when compared to smooth surfaces, and subsequent persistence decreased by 97% after 90 minutes. Comparatively, the copper surfaces which are also known for decreasing MSSA bacterial growth, showed no significant decrease when compared to the smooth control assays. Regarding MRSA bacteria, the copper surfaces did effectively reduce growth by 80% and 79% for transfer and survival respectively. According to the statistical analysis, overall the Sharklet micropattern significantly reduced bacterial transfer and survivorship when compared to copper and smooth surface assays and "accelerated loss of bacteria viability".
Mann, EM et al. "Surface Micropattern Limits Bacterial Contamination." Antimicrobial Resistance and Infection Control 3.28 (2014): 1-8. Print.