Infections around medical implants could become a thing of the past thanks to new technology developed by scientists in Galway.

The new scaffold or structure used for tissue generation, developed by researchers at NUI Galway, is capable of delivering localised drug treatment to the area which in turn can prevent infection.

Although medical implants have revolutionised many areas of healthcare, infections caused by their insertion can cause significant problems for patients, including long periods of hospitalisation and extra surgery.

In some cases, the implant may even need to be removed or replaced.

So far the team has shown that the scaffolds, made of collagen infused with antibiotics, can be used to ward off two infection causing bacteria - Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus epidermidis.

Previous attempts have been made to use localised drugs in implanted scaffolds to prevent infection. 

But the ideal structure and drug combination had, until now, not been found. 

"Our cross-linked collagen scaffold marks an important step forward against a problem that is both a major health problem and a severe economic burden to healthcare systems internationally," said lead author Dr Dimitrios Zeugolis, the REMODEL and CÚRAM research centres at NUI Galway.

Details of the new development are published in the journal Biomedical Materials.