Scientists have developed blood-repellent titanium surfaces that could be used to make medical devices, like stents, more biocompatible. Image Credit: Flickr user A.M.D.

One of the most significant drawback of surgically implanted medical devices like stents, catheters and metal tubing is their tendency to cause blood clots. For patients with coronary heart disease, stents are used to prop open blood vessels, which keeps the blood flowing despite plaque buildup.1 But when platelets recognize these devices as foreign objects, they adhere to the surface. Over time, this can create an obstruction in the vessel, leading to an embolism.

Right now, doctors seek to prevent this from happening by prescribing blood-thinning drugs, but patients have to stay on blood thinners for the rest of their lives, and the drugs can cause debilitating side effects, such as uncontrolled bleeding. What’s worse, blood thinners are not always entirely effective, and the platelet aggregation caused by the surgically implanted medical device may lead to blood clotting anyway. There’s also the chance that the body will reject the device altogether, and it will have to be removed.2

In December 2016, researchers at Colorado State University published a paper in the journal Advanced Healthcare Materials describing an innovative technology that could be used to create medical devices that do not cause these problems. The authors describe a titanium-based material that is so blood repellant that it has been termed “superhemophobic.” In the past, researchers have tried to create materials that are more compatible with blood, but the researchers at CSU decided to take the opposite approach.

Their goal was to design a material that repelled blood so strongly that cells would act as if there was no foreign material present in the vessel at all.3 The results of their research provide a foundation for further studies on superhemophobic materials, as well as forays into the design of blood-repellant medical devices. For medical device companies that intend to undertake research in these areas, lab unification software can provide valuable support.

Designing More Superhemophobic Materials

In their search for a superhemophobic materials, the researchers at CSU tested three different titanium surface texture alteration options, as well as three different chemical treatments. Ultimately, they found that the most effective way to make titanium superhemophobic was to roughen the surface by covering it entirely with hydrophic nanotubes, and then fluorinate the resulting structures by treating the entire surface with fluorosilane, a Teflon-like chemical that was previously known to repel platelets.4 However, the treatment they describe may not be the only way to make medical device surfaces blood-repellent. The researchers report that surfaces are effective at repelling blood due to apparent contact angle changes,5 and there may be other ways to create materials with similar qualities. In fact, there are already academic researchers and startups that are studying similar technologies.6

Researchers who are pursuing these kinds of studies can benefit greatly from laboratory unification software that supports research collaborations. Indeed, the researchers at CSU attribute their success to the input of both materials scientists and biomedical researchers. By bringing together the insights and experimental results of experts in biology, chemistry and engineering, collaboration solutions can help research groups identify and test innovative superhemophobic materials.

Toward the Development of Blood-Repellent Medical Devices

While the chemistry behind superhemophobic materials is certainly intriguing, the real excitement about the technology that the CSU researchers described is its implications for the future of medical device development. Because superhemophobic medical devices have the potential to reshape the lives of so many patients who currently rely on blood thinners, the goal is for research organizations to get development efforts underway and bring blood-repellant medical devices to market as quickly as possible.

There are a few ways that laboratory unification software can help streamline the development process in order to cut down on the overall time it will take for this technology to start benefitting the patients who need biocompatible surgical implants:

 

  • Limiting Redundant Experiments on Similar Devices

 

There are a variety of different types of medical devices that would be more biocompatible if they had superhemophobic surfaces. Development efforts for each device should not be isolated, and instead focus on collaboration and information sharing, since many of the experiments on potential blood-repellent stents could be also be relevant for superhemophobic catheters. With lab unification software, research organizations can reduce the likelihood that experiments are being repeated by ensuring that all scientists have access to the data that is relevant to their work, even if it has been conducted by another researcher or group within the lab.

 

  • Facilitating Research Collaborations

 

Like the basic research into superhemophobic surfaces, design and development efforts for blood-repellant medical devices will require input from researchers with a wide range of academic backgrounds. Not only do lab unification solutions allow materials scientists and biomedical researchers to share results, but also make it easier to bring in the perspectives of other experts, like chemists, cardiologists and surgeons, whose insights could lead to technological tweaks that improve the safety and effectiveness of medical devices in significant ways.

 

  • Streamlining Device Development Decisions

 

Business decision-making bottlenecks can significantly increase the time it takes for a proposed medical device to go from conception to market, especially if leaders within a research organization are considering the development of several different blood-repellent medical devices. To keep projects moving forward, they need to be able to quickly access relevant data and results, without wasting time tracking down researchers or paging through lab notebooks. Lab unification solutions simplify information searching for all relevant parties, so that both the business and the scientific aspects of medical device development run smoothly.

The recent scientific breakthroughs on superhemophobic surfaces have opened the door to further basic studies on blood-repellant materials, as well as development research toward the creation of more biocompatible medical devices. By utilizing modern lab unification software, research organizations can increase research quality and lower the amount of time it takes to get revolutionary devices through the R&D process and onto the market.

BIOVIA ONE Lab is a unification software solution designed specifically for research organizations in the life sciences industry. Contact us today to learn more about how this integrative technology can improve operations and support success in your lab.

  1. “What Is a Stent?” 2015, https://www.heart.org/idc/groups/heart-public/@wcm/@hcm/documents/downloadable/ucm_300452.pdf
  2.  “Blood-Repellent Metal Could Lead to Safer Implants,” January 23, 2017, https://www.engadget.com/2017/01/23/blood-repellent-metal-for-implants/
  3. Blood-Repellent Materials: A New Approach to Medical Implants,” January 18, 2017, http://source.colostate.edu/blood-repellent-materials-new-approach-medical-implants/
  4. “Blood-Repellent Titanium Surface Engineered,” January 23, 2017, https://www.chemistryworld.com/news/blood-repellent-titanium-surface-engineered/2500288.article
  5. “Hemocompatibility of Superhemophobic Titania Surfaces,” December 21, 2016, http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/adhm.201600717/abstract
  6. “Meet the Newest Blood-Repelling Material Designed for Medical Implants,” January 23, 2017, https://www.forbes.com/sites/carmendrahl/2017/01/23/meet-the-newest-blood-repelling-material-designed-for-medical-implants/#5eef69db13a5