Heals

Missouri S&T senior and biological sciences laboratory technician Justin Lovelady (left) works with associate professor David Westenberg in Schrenk Hall to develop glass that can kill bacteria and heal wounds.

Missouri S&T senior and biological sciences laboratory technician Justin Lovelady (left) works with associate professor David Westenberg in Schrenk Hall to develop glass that can kill bacteria and heal wounds.

For years S&T has been a leader in glass-related medical research, beginning with Delbert Day’s glass microspheres. These tiny irradiated beads deliver localized radiation to malignant cancer cells in the liver.

Now David Westenberg, associate professor of biological sciences, is working with Day, a Curators’ Professor emeritus of ceramic engineering, to advance the nanofiber borate glass used in clinical trials to speed the healing of wounds.

Westenberg and his students are working with ground up samples of Day’s bioglass. They’re testing samples made with various compositions of metals to see how well they kill bacteria.

The students mix powdered glass with diluted bacteria, and then gauge the bacteria’s response to the glass using the “zone of inhibition” method. Bacteria that are susceptible to the glass will die, forming a circular ring around the glass particle. That ring makes it easier for researchers to confirm the death of the bacteria.

Westenberg is testing three bacteria: Staphylococcus epidermidis, E. coli and Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a bacteria common with burn wounds. “These are surrogates for disease-causing bacteria, such as MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), a bacteria that is resistant to many antibiotics and a major concern for hospitals,” he says. “But I’ve got a collection of about 40 to 50 bacteria that we still need to test.

“After 24 hours, you can see that the glass is killing the bacteria,” he says. “The glass alone will kill the staph, but E. coli is more resistant. When silver is added to the glass, it’s much more effective on E. coli.”

Westenberg says adding other metals to the glass could help kill different types of bacteria. His next round of experiments will use solid plates of glass to see how bacteria thrive on those surfaces.

“His work has changed the perspective of my research,” the biologist says of Day, CerE’58. “I’m a plant and microbiology person. I had no interest in medical research before working with him, but he’s become an incredible mentor to me and to my students.”

The glass alone will kill the staph, but E. coli is more resistant.

Around the Puck

By the numbers: Fall/Winter 2018

8,607 Students enrolled for the fall semester at Missouri S&T. Classes started Aug. 20. 91 Percentage of first-year freshmen who receive scholarships and financial aid.

[Read More...]

Making tornado alley safer

Growing up in northeast China, Guirong “Grace” Yan didn’t see many tornados in a country where the number of documented twisters is a fraction of those that hit the United States. But as her academic career took Yan to several postdoctoral fellowships and then faculty positions in Indiana, Missouri and Texas, the assistant professor of […]

[Read More...]

Living laboratory houses lead battery research

This past November, Missouri S&T installed two new advanced lead battery microgrid systems at the EcoVillage, a “living laboratory” that is home to S&T’s solar-powered homes.

[Read More...]

Partners for progress

An expansion of the partnership between Missouri S&T and Missouri State University will allow students to pursue a mechanical engineering degree on the Missouri State campus with courses taught by faculty from both institutions. Students began applying this fall. The program will begin in fall 2019.

[Read More...]

Chancellor search is underway

This past August, University of Missouri President Mun Choi announced the formation of a 23-member committee to lead a nationwide search for a chancellor at Missouri S&T.

[Read More...]