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Compound developed from mussels may lead to safer, more effective medical implants

Medical implants may soon get better at preventing life-threatening clogs and bacterial infections thanks to an unusual coating that is being developed from mussels, according to researchers at Northwestern University.

They have developed a two-sided coating: one side is a sticky glue based on adhesive proteins secreted by mussels, the other is a special repellant. While the sticky side is designed to attach securely to the surface of the implant, the repellant side prevents the build-up of cells and proteins that typically foul implant devices such as cardiac stents, urinary catheters and dialysis tubing. Such contamination can lead to device malfunction, blood clots or fatal bacterial infections, the researchers say.

Their findings, which are based on laboratory studies, are scheduled to appear in the April 9 print issue of the Journal of the American Chemical Society, a peer-reviewed publication of the American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society.

Medical implant contamination, particularly that caused by bacterial infections, is a major medical challenge today. Although researchers have been developing anti-adhesive coatings and other anti-infective techniques for medical devices for years, no single approach works effectively for all types of implant surfaces, says Phillip B. Messersmith, Ph.D., a professor in the Biomedical Engineering Department at the university, located in Evanston, Ill., and lead investigator in the study.

"Our goal is to take advantage of the unique ability of mussels to attach to all types of surfaces, including Teflon, in order to develop a compound that will allow us to treat a variety of implant surfaces with a single approach," Messersmith says. Such a coating would be more versatile and cost-effective than those currently used, he predicts.

The foot of the common mussel (Mytilus edulis) produces a sticky glue that keeps the shelled organism anchored to ro
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Contact: Beverly Hassell
b_hassell@acs.org
202-872-4065
American Chemical Society
7-Apr-2003


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