Any medical implant, such as a stent or catheter, can be a breeding ground for dangerous blood clots — which can be life-threatening. If blood can adhere to a surface, it can gather and form clots and even lead to the body's rejection of foreign material.
To ward off heart attacks from clots, patients resign themselves to a lifetime of blood-thinning drugs and their side effects.
Now, engineers and biomedical scientists have come up with surface material that repels virtually any liquid, but most importantly, blood and blood components, such as plasma and water. The new surface (dubbed superomniphobic) gets its start with titanium but is chemically altered with nanotubes, which are lab-grown, organic compounds.
The interdisciplinary collaboration occurred between the Colorado State University labs of Arun Kota, assistant professor of mechanical engineering and biomedical engineering; and Ketul Popat, associate professor in the same departments.
Kota said, "We are taking a material that blood hates to come in contact with, in order to make it compatible with blood." The idea being that the surface is so repellent, it is virtually invisible to blood. "The reason blood clots, is because it finds cells in the blood to go to and attach," Popat said. "Normally, blood flows in vessels. If we can design materials where blood barely contacts the surface, there is virtually no chance of clotting, which is a coordinated set of events. Here, we're targeting the prevention of the first set of events."
Their work was published in the journal Advanced Healthcare Materials.
Growing a surface and testing it in the lab is just the beginning, of course. Much has to be done and tested before the material can be used to make medical devices, the researchers say.
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