Primordial ‘goo’ used to improve implants
Australia’s national science research organisation, CSIRO, has developed an innovative new coating that could be used to improve medical devices and implants, thanks to a ‘goo’ thought to have been home to the building blocks of life.
The prebiotic compounds from this primordial soup can be traced back billions of years and have been studied intensively since their discovery several decades ago. Now, for the first time, researchers have uncovered a way to use the molecules to assist with medical treatments.
Lead researcher Richard Evans from CSIRO said: “The human body is a complex system so there is a lot to consider when implanting artificial parts. Reducing the likelihood of infection and ensuring the body doesn’t reject implants are ongoing medical challenges. That’s why coatings on these implants are needed to help them to do their job.
“We wanted to use these prehistoric molecules, which are believed to have been the source of all life evolving on Earth, to see if we could apply the chemistry in a practical way.”
The team discovered that the coating is bio-friendly and that cells readily grow and colonise it. It could be applied to medical devices to improve their performance and acceptance by the body.
“The non-toxic coating is adhesive and will coat almost any material, making its potential biomedical applications really broad,” said Evans.
The researchers also experimented with adding silver compounds to produce an antibacterial coating that can be used on devices such as catheters to avoid infection.
CSIRO is the first organisation to investigate practical applications of this kind using prebiotic chemistry and is seeking to partner with biomedical manufacturers to exploit the technology.
Reference: NPG Asia Materials (2015) 7, e225; doi:10.1038/am.2015.122
Image caption – Richard Evans holds the bio-friendly coating that can be applied to medical devices to improve performance and acceptance by the body