Researchers from the University of Bristol recently developed a new technology that could increase protection against antibacterial and antifungal infection for weeks, months, or even years. This technology will have broad appeal across many areas, but one of the most interesting is dentistry. According to statistics, “one in seven composite fillings fail within seven years and 86 percent of these failures are caused by bacterial infection.”

Dr. Michele Barbour and her research group in the University’s School of Oral and Dental Sciences developed the technology, Pertinax, which is a new formulation of chlorhexidine. Chlorhexidine is an antimicrobial agent, which is widely used to prevent and treat a range of infections. However, it is only effective for short periods of time in its traditional form. The great thing about Pertinax is it improves the persistence of chlorhexidine, which leads to many more possible uses. According to Science Daily, “this innovation has won Dr Barbour and Pertinax the £25,000 Materials Science Venture Prize awarded by The Worshipful Company of Armourers and Brasiers.”

Dr. Barbour said of the technology, “Pertinax can greatly extend the active lifetime of chlorhexidine, enabling it to provide reliable protection against infection for very much longer than was previously possible. This opens up a range of new potential applications, as well as the opportunity to make existing products more effective.”

“Our initial focus will be in the dental market … Research shows there is a clear need for long-acting antimicrobial products used in fillings and cements for crowns, bridges and orthodontic braces which will treat and prevent persistent bacterial infections over a much longer time frame than is currently possible,” explained Dr. Barbour.

The technology is also expected to be beneficial for other equipment like catheters, which are prone to infections like MRSA. Dr. Barbour plans to use the prize money to develop a strong manufacturing process.