Rediguieri, C.F. et al. University of Bath. Published online: April 2016
International researchers led by the University of Bath have demonstrated a cheap, effective and environmentally-friendly way to sterilise medical implants without changing their properties, in contrast to some techniques.
This inexpensive technology could save time and money while effectively sterilising medical implants, does not require extensive training and produces no waste products
Scientists from the University of Bath’s Department of Pharmacy & Pharmacology and Centre for Regenerative Medicine and from the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of São Paulo, Brazil, showed that ozone gas, obtained by passing electricity through oxygen, effectively sterilises one of the most common types of polymer used in medical implants.
Polymer implants, such as screws, pins and stents, are commonly used in surgical treatments, and there is an increasing use of implantable polymers in fields such as drug delivery, regenerative medicine and tissue engineering.
These materials must be sterile before use, but some methods of sterilisation alter their physical or chemical properties, potentially reducing performance.
The researchers showed that exposing the implants to as few as two controlled ‘pulses’ of ozone gas could sterilise the polymer, called poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA), killing spores of the Geobacillus stearothermophilus bacteria, the most common biological indicator used for validation of sterilisation processes.
Ozone treatment caused no changes in the PLGA and no loss of function, with cells still able to grow on the polymer scaffold, as they would in treatments.
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