New Implant Coating May
Trigger Healing Process In Body
LONDON - Heart valves, artificial hips and other medical implants may soon promote healing thanks to a new coating process that prevents the body from rejecting them, scientists said on Wednesday.
Researchers at the University of Washington in Seattle said the new coating for the devices has tiny keyhole-like indentions that bind to specific proteins.
Instead of the body rejecting the implants the proteins may unleash the natural healing process and speed up recovery.
"The ability to make surfaces that can be recognized by the body is major step forward in our quest for biomaterials and implants that heal," Buddy Ratner, director of the university's Biomaterials Center, said in a statement.
"This is the first coating process that works on the atomically flat surfaces of artificial materials commonly used in implants and that promotes affinity for specific proteins."
The scientists, whose research is published in the latest issue of the science journal Nature, said the coating could be used for any of the more than half a billion medical devices that are implanted in patients every year.
The new material, which works like a lock and key with specific proteins, could also reduce surgery needed to replace rejected implants that no longer work or need to be removed because the body has walled them off with scar-like tissue.
"We've achieved with ordinary synthetic materials the highly specific lock-and-key fit we see in natural healing, and that has been one of the toughest hurdles," said Ratner.
"The next step is to see if an implant coated using our process actually turns on healing in the body."