Home E-Weekly November 8, 2016

Antibiotic Coating Could Prevent Artificial Joint Infections

Published: November 7, 2016

Could artificial joints one day come with built-in antibiotics? Scientists at Johns Hopkins University might be on to just such a way to reduce the risk of infection in hip, knee and shoulder joint implants. They made a thin biodegradable plastic coating on metallic implants that releases multiple antibiotics at desired rates to prevent biofilm infection in joint replacement patients. The coating is composed of a nanofiber mesh embedded in a thin film. Both components are made of polymers used for degradable sutures, they say.

When they tested their coating on mice, the results were promising. After a 14-day period in which the mice received a titanium pin with antibiotic-releasing coating, none of them had detectable bacteria on the implants or in surrounding tissue.

"We were able to completely eradicate infection with this coating," says co-senior study author Lloyd S. Miller, MD, PhD, an associate professor of dermatology and orthopaedic surgery at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

The study was published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Of the more than 1 million hip and knee replacements done in the United States each year, 1% to 2% of patients develop infections.

"We can potentially coat any metallic implant that we put into patients, from prosthetic joints, rods, screws and plates to pacemakers, implantable defibrillators and dental hardware," says Dr. Miller.

Dan Dunkin

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