London: In a major breakthrough, researchers have created a novel, bacteria-repelling coating material that could increase the success of medical implants.
The material attracts healthy cells to the medical implant, wiping out competition from bacterial cells.
This reduces the likelihood of the implant being rejected by the body.
"The method we developed helped the host cells win the so called 'race-for-surface' battle, forming a confluent layer on the implant surface which protects it from possible bacterial adhesion and colonization," said professor Vincent Chan from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.
The failure rate of certain medical implants still remains high due to the formation of biofilms when the implant is first inserted into the body.
This thin film is composed of a group of micro organisms stuck together and can be initiated by bacteria sticking to the implant.
This prevents healthy cells from attaching and results in the body eventually rejecting the implant.
The base of the material was made from polyelectrolyte multilayers onto which a number of specific bonding molecules, called ligands, were attached.
This combination was tested on cultures of healthy fibroblast cells and cultures of bacterial cells, in which two specific strains were used--E. coli and S. aureus.
"The bio-selective coatings we have created do not have this problem as the materials used are non-toxic and the preparation process uses water as a solvent," Vincent noted.
"At the moment this is just a 'proof-of-concept' study, so there is still a long way to go before the coating can be used on implants in clinical setting. In future studies we hope to firstly improve the long-term stability of the coating," Vincent concluded.
The study appeared in the journal Biomedical Materials.