Bactericidal nanoblades: a proof-of-concept approach for bimodal chemo-mechanical eradication of persistent biofilms




01. December 2021 - 30. November 2024


0,55 FTE


Stane Pajk


3.08 Medical Sciences / Public Health

Research Organisation:







Biofilms are complex microbial ecosystems formed by bacteria encased in their own matrix of extracellular polymeric substances that are bound to the surface. Biofilms offer several advantages to bacteria, such as hydration, resource acquisition, digestibility and protection from mechanical damage and antimicrobial agents. Bacteria can form biofilms on a wide variety of materials including glass, aluminium, stainless steel, various organic polymers, fluorinated materials such as Teflon™ and on living tissues. The formation of bacterial biofilms has a negative impact on many areas, including healthcare, food processing, public water supply and ventilation. The presence of biofilms is a threat to human health, as approximately 80% of chronic and recurrent microbial infections are associated with biofilms. As biofilms are complex communities, their unique properties increase the potential for chemical and physical resistance to biofilm removal methods currently in use. In response to the current public health problems caused by biofilms and resistant bacteria, we propose this project to investigate a new concept for the prevention of persistent bacterial biofilms through a combination of a nanotechnological approach and bactericidal action. The new concept is based on the use of magnetic particles and silver nanoparticles. We will investigate the action of the particles on biofilms to see if the particles can remove persistent biofilms. The bactericidal component will be provided by the release of silver ions. We anticipate that we will induce the release of silver ions and generate a broad-spectrum antimicrobial effect for biomaterials in contact with the antimicrobial particles. In the proposed project, we will test this strategy in a variety of bacterial biofilms, including bacteria of high importance for the healthcare system and the food industry.  The project involves a number of innovative and ambitious methodological approaches that require interdisciplinary expertise. Therefore, we have established an international consortium that brings together five groups: the project leader from the University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Pharmacy (FFA-Chem), two groups from the Jožef Stefan Institute (SLO-Nano and SLO-Bio) and two groups from Switzerland (CH- Nano and CH Bio). The groups of the CH leader, Dr Irena Milošević (CH-Nano) and Dr Slavko Kralj (SLO-Nano), will join the efforts on synthesis of the nanoparticles and the model hydrogels. The surface modification of the nanoparticles will be led by SLO project leader Dr Stane Pajk (FFA-Chem). These functionalised nanoparticles will be further investigated by the groups of Dr Jerica Sabotič (SLO-Bio) and Dr Mustapha Mekki (CH-Bio) using microbiological approaches. The SLO-Bio and CH-Bio groups will test the effects of the particles on biofilms of bacteria of relevant for the food industry (SLO-Bio) and the health system (CH-Bio). The highly interdisciplinary project with international consortium will be coordinated by Prof. Stane Pajk (SLO part) and Prof. Irena Milosevic (CH part). All partners will ensure efficient dissemination of the project results, as well as the identification and protection of the intellectual property and the mitigation of risk.  The validation of our approach can have a major impact on public health, as the new concept can change the paradigm of the fight against biofilms in the food industry and in the healthcare system.



Bibliographical references, arising directly from the implementation of the project:


Financed by:

Research projects (co)funded by the Slovenian Research Agency.