Sharklet uses micropattern alone – no antibiotics or chemicals – to prevent mucus occlusion and control bacterial biofilm on tube surfaces.


The insertion of an endotracheal tube frequently disrupts the normal secretion and flow of mucus. Mucus gathers in the tube, resulting in a blockage of the airway. This blockage complicates the breathing of the patient, prolonging patient dependence on a ventilator. If the tube occludes completely and cuts off airflow, immediate intervention is required.

The Sharklet endotracheal tube uses a special pattern inside the tube to prevent this dangerous buildup of mucus.

These images show mucus occlusion on a smooth control surface as well as a Sharklet surface. These laser confocal images show the lack of buildup on Sharklet micropatterned surfaces.
This graph shows protein concentration on smooth and Sharklet surfaces after mucus exposure over 48 hours.
Ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP) is the most common infection in hospital intensive care units. These infections cost hospitals $1.5 billion each year in the United States. A Sharklet ETT prevents biofilm buildup on tube surfaces and may reduce VAP infections.
Smooth    Sharklet

Bacteria adhere to ETTs and form strong, persistent microbial communities. This process allows bacteria to move to the lungs and cause ventilator-associated pneumonia. Sharklet prevents bacterial biofilms as shown in these macroscopic images of biofilm accumulation.

To learn more about our research into endotracheal tubes, check out the articles below.

Micropatterned Endotracheal Tubes Reduce Secretion-Related Lumen Occlusion

When patients are mechanically ventilated, endotracheal tubes have the potential to disrupt normal airway secretion production and clearance. This ultimately results in secretion accumulation within standard endotracheal tubes and leads to numerous complications for the patient. Sharklet has developed two different test models (in vitro and in vivo) to evaluate the ability of Sharklet-micropatterned endotracheal tubes to reduce the accumulation of these secretions and improve patient care.

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Micro-patterned surfaces reduce bacterial colonization and biofilm formation in vitro: Potential for enhancing endotracheal tube designs (2014)


Ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP) is a leading hospital acquired infection in intensive care units despite improved patient care practices and advancements in endotracheal tube (ETT) designs. The ETT provides a conduit for bacterial access to the lower respiratory tract and a substratum for biofilm formation, both of which lead to VAP. A novel microscopic ordered surface topography, the Sharklet micro-pattern, has been shown to decrease surface attachment of numerous microorganisms, and may provide an alternative strategy for VAP prevention if included on the surface of an ETT. To evaluate the feasibility of this micro-pattern for this application, the microbial range of performance was investigated in addition to biofilm studies with and without a mucin-rich medium to simulate the tracheal environment in vitro.

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