January 24, 2024

Surgeons design implant coating to combat infections

Editor's Note:

A point-of-care, antimicrobial coating for orthopedic implants could soon make implant-associated infections a problem of the past, UCLA Health reported on January 3.

Developed by two UCLA surgeons, the coating is designed to kill or slow the spread of micro-organisms in order to prevent post-surgical infections. According to a 2021 study in Nature Communications, the solution showed positive results in meeting three important criteria: customizability, practicality for use in ORs, and capability for broad adoption without impact on the implant manufacturing process. Now, they are working with the US Food & Drug administration to design clinical trials for human patients, UCLA reports.     

According to the 2021 study, implant-associated infections affect 1 in 100 US patients who undergo hip or knee replacement surgery, costing the healthcare system billions of dollars. The rate of these infections is even higher in lower-resource hospital systems that lack modern sterility measures and implant technology. 

The proposed solution is made of two polymers. Surgeons can combine it with an antibiotic or antimicrobial of their choosing and apply it directly to the implant via painting, dipping or spraying, in a process that takes less than 10 minutes. In the study, the surgeons applied the coating to implants used in mouse models and had zero infections. 

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