When a foreign material like a medical device or surgical implant is put inside the human body, the body always responds, and most of the time, that response can be negative and affect the device’s function.
We all need oxygen to survive, but a high concentration of oxygen in the body can cause oxidative reactions to fall out of balance, which modifies natural proteins, cells, and lipids and causes them to function abnormally. This oxidative stress is toxic and can contribute to chronic disease, chronic inflammation, and other complications that may cause the failure of implants.
But for the first time ever, researchers have created a biodegradable biomaterial that is inherently antioxidant. The material can be used to create elastomers, liquids that turn into gels, or solids for building devices that are more compatible with cells and tissues. The research is described in the June 26 issue of Biomaterials.
“Plastics can self-oxidize, creating radicals as part of their degradation process,” said Northwestern University’s Guillermo Ameer. “By implanting devices made from plastics, the oxidation process can injure nearby cells and create a cascade that leads to chronic inflammation. Our materials could significantly reduce the inflammatory response that we typically see.”
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