Posted on Jan 30, 2009, 10 a.m.
Researchers have discovered that a synthetic form of a peptide can be coated on the surfaces of such medical devices as surgical implants, catheters, and joint prostheses to prevent infection and rejection.
A study by researchers at the University of British Columbia, which was just released in the journal Chemistry and Biology, found that a mimic of one of “nature's antibiotics” â€“short tethered cationic antimicrobial peptides â€“ can protect surfaces of medical devices by killing germs that come in contact with the device. These peptides, which are found on the skin and mucosal surfaces, as well as in tears, sweat and blood of all humans and animals, have a unique characteristic that naturally protect the organism against microbial infections. Specifically, they are active when attached to surfaces, and when the bacteria comes into contact with the peptides, it loses its integrity and eliminates itself.Infection resulting from the implantation of surgical devices is a common and serious complication. And when medical devices become infected with bacteria, it can lead to such problems as the degeneration or rejection of the implant. “The rapid progress of biomedical technology and an aging population places increasing demands on medical implants to treat serious tissue disorders and replace organ function,” says Robert Hancock, Ph.D., Principal Investigator and Canada Research Chair in Pathogenomics and Antimicrobials at UBC's Department of Microbiology and Immunology. As Dr. Hancock notes, while the risk of infection after the surgical implantation of a device is between one and seven percent, it is associated with considerable morbidity, repeated surgeries and prolonged therapy.
Dr. Hancock emphasizes that “prevention of such infections remains a priority and in particular, there is an urgent need to coat the surfaces of medical devices, including implants, with antimicrobial agents to reduce the risk of infection. We have developed a new method for finding a variety of effective peptides that can bind to a surface and still kill harmful bacteria and fungus,” he says.News Release: Surgical implants coated with one of “nature's antibiotics” could prevent infection: UBC study University of Columbia Public Affairs www.public.affairs.ubc.ca January 29, 2009