Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Primordial Goo Improves Implants

CSIRO has developed an innovative coating for medical devices and implants made from prebiotic “goo” that can be traced back billions of years to the origin of life.

Dr Richard Evans of CSIRO said hundreds of thousands of Australians receive medical implants like bone replacements, catheters and pacemakers every year. “Reducing the likelihood of infection, and ensuring the body doesn’t reject implants, are ongoing medical challenges,” he said. “That’s why coatings on these implants are needed to help them to do their job.

“We wanted to use these prehistoric molecules, which are believed to have been the source of all life evolving on Earth, to see if we could apply the chemistry in a practical way.”

The team discovered that the nitrogenous polymer aminomalononitrile is bio-friendly, and cells readily grow and colonise it. “The non-toxic coating is adhesive and will coat almost any material, making its potential biomedical applications really broad,” Evans said.

The researchers also tried adding silver compounds to produce an antibacterial coating that can be used on devices such as catheters to avoid infections. “Other compounds can also be added to implants to reduce friction, make them more durable and resistant to wear,” Evans said.

The coating process is very simple and uses methods and substances that are readily available, making devices more cost-effective for biomedical manufacturers.

The findings from the research were published in Asia Materials (tinyurl.com/nqmhylb).