New Medical Implant ‘Superhemophobic’ Material Will Repel Blood To Avoid Rejection

A new “Superhemophobic” medical implant material being developed at Colorado State University will help prevent “rejection” and other complications arising from medical implants by actually repelling blood away from them, according to a new report published in the journal Advanced Healthcare Materials.

One of the biggest and most longstanding issues with medical implants is the possibility of rejection, in which the body “attacks the artificial valve or device, causing complications to an already compromised system,” an article from the University of Washington Office of News and Information explains. Other complications include blood clotting on or around the device and allergic reactions.

For years many researchers focused on trying to develop implant materials that would be as compatible as possible with a patient’s blood. This approach has met with mixed results. Now the researchers at Colorado State University are tackling the problem from a completely different angle. In fact, they are doing basically the exact opposite of what traditional thinking in the field has dictated.

“Researchers have been working to try and make implants that blood likes enough to be compatible,” Arun Kota, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering and biomedical engineering who is working on the research project, told Digital Trends. “We wanted to do the opposite: To make it so that implants are so repellent to blood that blood can’t even contact its surface to make it wet. In a sense, we’re tricking blood into thinking there’s nothing there at all.”

The Colorado State researchers are not completely reinventing the medical implant wheel, however. They are relying on the breadth of research that has come before them in the field. For instance, titanium has been a common material for medical implants for years, so of course there is a good bit of research existing on both the pros and cons of titanium as a medical implant material.

“Titanium-based implants have received a great deal of attention for their biocompatibility with many different tissues in the human body,” the Colorado State University research paper explains. “However, when these implants come in contact with blood, platelet adhesion and activation occur, which may lead to further thrombosis and sometimes failure of these implants.”

With the new Superhemophobic titanium medical implant material, this will not be an issue, at least not in theory, because blood will basically slip around the the material and avoid coming into direct contact with it.

While the new research offers a great deal of hope for people who may need medical implants in the future and presents a fascinating new subfield of research with extraordinary potential, the new implant material still has a way to go in the research and development phases before it can start being used on implant devices in humans.

“There is still a way to go before it can be commercialized, but we’re excited about the result,” Kota acknowledges.

“Right now, we’ve only looked at a couple of parameters, platelet adhesion and activation. The next step is to look at other parameters that influence hemocompatibility. Once we’ve done that, we want to go to in vivo studies in which we intend to implant a superhemophobic surface in a live animal, before we go through an FDA approval process to get these medical implants ready for humans.”

Hopefully, Kota and his colleagues at Colorado State University will continue to have positive results with their research in the future and move the new Superhemophobic titanium medical implant material into the next phase of development as soon as possible. Receiving implants without the fear of rejection or allergic reaction would certainly provide a great sense of relief to many people.

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