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Dissolving implant fights staph infections

December 3, 2014
by Richard R. Rogoski
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Researchers at Tufts University and the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana have developed a wireless implant that fights bacterial infections and then dissolves.

In experiments with mice, the teams discovered that when heat was delivered via wireless signal to tissue infected with Staphyllococcus sp., the bacteria were killed. The silk and magnesium implant that delivered the heat then harmlessly dissolved.

The study, published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, notes that dissolving times can be as little as minutes. Since each implantable heating device consists of a serpentine resistor and a power-receiving coil made of magnesium deposited onto a silk protein layer, dissolving times will depend on how the silk protein is processed.

"This is an important demonstration step forward for the development of on-demand medical devices that can be turned on remotely to perform a therapeutic function in a patient and then safely disappear after their use, requiring no retrieval," said senior author Fiorenzo Omenetto, professor of biomedical engineering and Frank C. Doble professor at Tufts School of Engineering, in a press release. "These wireless strategies could help manage post-surgical infection, for example, or pave the way for eventual 'wi-fi' drug delivery."