Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Slippery Implants
23 October 2014

Slippery Implants

This is a super close-up snapshot of blood cells coagulating to form a clot. Unfortunately, clotting often occurs around implanted medical devices like catheters and hip replacements. Microbes also like to gather on these devices, sometimes resulting in bacterial infections. Now, though, researchers have created a special surface coating for medical implants that gives bacteria and blood cells the slip. Inspired by the slick surfaces on carnivorous pitcher plants, the coating features two layers of Teflon-like chemicals called fluorocarbons. Pretty much nothing can stick to the liquid top layer. When coated catheters were implanted into blood vessels in pigs, clotting was prevented for eight hours. What’s more, just one in every billion bacterial cells was able to adhere to coated medical tubing. The invention could potentially reduce the use of blood-thinning drugs, which can have nasty side effects, and lead to fewer infections in patients with medical implants.

Written by Daniel Cossins

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