Researchers at a Canadian university have developed a novel coating for implants could reduce infections they sometimes cause in patients.
Researchers from the University of British Columbia (UBC) and the Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute developed the silver-based coating that can be applied to devices like stents or catheters. It has been described as a “silver bullet” to address the issue of bacteria that often complicate conditions for patients with medical device implants.
“This is a highly effective coating that won’t harm human tissues and could potentially eliminate implant-associated infections. It could be very cost-effective and could also be applicable to many different products,” Dr Kizhakkedathu, professor at UBC’s department of pathology and laboratory medicine, said, in a statement released by the university.
Kizhakkedathu is also the co-senior author of a study outlining the development which was published by the journal ACS Central Science last week.
According to the researchers, while silver has been proven as an effective antimicrobial, its use in implants and medical devices can be toxic. The coating discovered by the research team and its associated technology eliminated such toxicity issues and found a new way to prevent bacteria adhering to the devices and killing them.
The UBC team led by Dr Hossein Yazdani-Ahmadabadi, a former chemistry PhD student from the Kizhakkedathu laboratory, generated the coating. A release from UBC said, “Once implanted, it releases silver ions gradually in small, controlled quantities—enough to kill bacteria but not harm human cells. It repels live and dead bacteria and other fouling agents from its surface, keeping it clean.”
While silver is a precious metal, the amount required for the coating is minute and researchers estimated it would add only abut 50 Canadian cents (about Rs. 30) to the cost of a catheter.
“Since we prevent attachment of both live and dead bacteria, this coating has significant potential to maintain a clean surface for any device or material for an extended period of time, which is something we haven’t seen so far,” the study’s other co -senior author, Dr Dirk Lange, associate professor in UBC’s department of urologic sciences, said.