Coating could make for safer medical implants

MEDICAL-DEVICE MANUFACTURERS MAY SOMEDAY COAT stents, urinary catheters, and other implants with a substance that stops cells and proteins from building up and contaminating these devices.

MEDICAL-DEVICE MANUFACTURERS MAY SOMEDAY COAT stents, urinary catheters, and other implants with a substance that stops cells and proteins from building up and contaminating these devices.

Developed by researchers at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., the coating is two-sided. One side, which would bond to the surface of an implant, is a sticky glue that's based on the adhesive proteins secreted by mussels. Mussels were of particular interest because they seem to be able to attach to every type of surface, including materials such as Teflon. In fact, the university's researchers have already demonstrated that the compound attaches to gold and titanium.

The other side acts as a repellent, preventing the buildup of cells and proteins that commonly contaminate medical implants.

According to Phillip B. Messersmith, Ph.D., lead investigator in the study, a coating that repels proteins and cells could prevent blood coagulation or blood clots forming on the surfaces of cardiovascular implants. It could also stop bacterial infection.

Besides implants, the compound could be used as a tooth coating to prevent dental plaque, which is caused by bacterial infection.

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