Licorice-Laced Nanocoating Protects Biologic Components during Sterilisation

November 8, 2012 – 2:17 pm

Here’s something you might not know about licorice. Many medical products must be sterilised to prevent putting the patient at risk of infection, but the sterilisation process itself can be hazardous to biological components, which increasingly are used to functionalise devices. Researchers from Germany and Austria have tested a nanocoating formulation that successfully protects functional biocomponents undergoing beta, gamma or E-beam sterilisation. Licorice, apparently, is part of what makes this work: the nanocoating, developed by Leukocare AG, contains an extract of the versatile legume, reports the ASM Medical Materials e-newsletter.

Joachim Koch of the Georg-Speyer Haus, Institute for Biomedical Research, in Frankfurt, Germany, and colleagues have successfully evaluated the nanocoating, a technology that involves a composition of stabilising nanomolecules. Glycyrrhizic acid, a natural, sweet-tasting chemical found in licorice, is part of the formulation. The nanocoating contains no sugars, sugar-alcohol compounds or proteins, which might interfere with the biological activity of the device.

The team tested the nanocoating by coupling and stabilizing an anti-inflammatory antibody to a porous polyurethane surface. This carrier acts as a surrogate for a medical device. Such a system might be used as a therapeutic implant to reduce inflammation caused by an overactive immune system in severely ill patients. The researchers found that the nanocoating and proteins were undamaged by the sterilisation and the device’s functionality was unaltered.

Bone implants, vascular stents and wound dressings are cited as applications for the nanocoating.

The findings are published in the current issue of Materials Today.

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