April Flowers for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online
A team of scientists, led by Chang Gung University, report a plastic material already used in absorbent surgical sutures and other medical devices shows promise for continuous administration of antibiotics to patients with brain infections. The findings, reported in ACS Chemical Neuroscience, show the use of the material, placed directly on the brain’s surface, could reduce the need for weeks of costly hospital stays now required for such treatment.
Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Chang Gung University (CGU), Taiwan, Shih-Jung Liu and his colleagues explain in approximately 5-10 percent of patients undergoing brain surgery, infections become life-threatening complications. Currently, treatment for such infections involves intravenous antibiotics for up to eight weeks and extended, costly hospital stays.
Prior research has shown drug delivering plastics could release antibiotics directly into the brain, but additional surgeries were needed to remove the plastic when the treatment course was completed. Liu and his team wanted to create a biodegradable option using a dissolvable plastic called PLGA.
The team describes the development of PLGA fibers that release vancomycin. Vancomycin is a powerful antibiotic that kills many microbes, including the infamous “MRSA,” which shrugs off most other known antibiotics. The team tested their fibers in rat models, which stand in for humans in these types of studies. The PLGA fibers successfully released the antibiotic for more than eight weeks in the brain, without any apparent side effects.