The new research from the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering finds a shocking new method for metal-based implant infections. Tagbo Niepa, Ph.D., is the lead researcher and first author to study electrochemical therapy (ECT) for enhancing the ability of common antibiotics to heal the infections.
The complete study results are published in ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, October 2019 edition. Click here to read it.
Are metallic implants a practical thing?
Most of the people know about Titanium. But not everyone knows that titanium makes an excellent choice for implants. It has a low density and high stiffness, which also has strict corrosion resistance. It contains a high biomechanical strength-to-weight ratio, which makes it a good addition in implants. However, here we mean implants like dental and joints but not cosmetic implants.
A common problem with metal-based implants is the surface area, which usually makes a home for microbes to live. When these microbes accumulate on the surface they cause chronic infections and inflammation that is hard to treat. Consequently, nearly 5% to 10% of implants fail and require removal within a few years. This is the only way to prevent metal-based implant infection and inflammation.
Currently, most of the antibiotics are suffering from a crisis of not working well and many of them are failing. On the other side, microbes are evolving and making these antibiotics useless with time. These drug-resistant new microbes are harmless when with the best antibiotics. So that is why many famous antimicrobials stop working, mostly in recurring infections.
ECT may prevent implants related infections
The new research from the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering introduces suggests using electrochemical therapy (ECT) in implants. It will improve the efficacy of antibiotics to kill the microbes before they cause an infection.
This new technique of using metal-based implants will damage the microbe’s cell membrane. There are high chances that antibiotics will work effectively if the cells are under the permeabilizing effects of current. This way even the drug-resistant cells will be treatable and there will be no more implants related infections.
This new method uses a weak electrical current that passes through the metal-based implant. It damages the cellular membranes of all damaging the attached microbes and kills them. Moreover, this damage can also increase permeability that in turn makes antibiotics work on these microbes.
The researchers are very much hopeful about this new technology. It may change the way of treating implant infections and inflammation. Currently, this experiment focused on Candida albicans (C. Albicans), which is one of the highly prevalent and damaging fungal infection that often shows up in dental implants. While dental implants are only one practical application of this new method, researchers are hopeful that it may also help in other applications, such as in wound dressings.