Titanium has many properties that make it a great choice for use in implants.
Its low density, high stiffness, high biomechnanical strength-to-weight ratio, and corrosion resistance have led to its use in several types of implants, from dental to joints.
However, a persistent problem plagues metal-based implants: the surface is also a perfect home for microbes to accumulate, causing chronic infections and inflammation in the surrounding tissue.
Consequently, 5-10% of dental implants fail and must be removed within 10-15 years to prevent infection in the blood and other organs.
In a recent study from the University of Pittsburgh, researchers found a ‘shocking’ new treatment for infections.
The study is published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces. The lead author is Tagbo Niepa, Ph.D.
In the study, the team used electrochemical therapy (ECT) to enhance the ability of antibiotics to eradicate the microbes.
The novel method passes a weak electrical current through the metal-based implant, damaging the attached microbe’s cell membrane but not harming the surrounding healthy tissue.
This damage increases permeability, making the microbe more susceptible to antibiotics.
Since most antibiotics specifically work on cells that are going to replicate, they do not work on dormant microbes, which is how infections can recur.
The ECT causes electrochemical stress in all the cells to sensitize them, making them more susceptible to antibiotics.
The researchers say this technology will change how infections are treated. They say it has other potential applications, such as in wound dressings.
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