Researchers at Colorado State University have developed a titanium-based metal that will act as a blood-repellent and will naturally adjust with the body without the need of blood thinners or other medications.
If the research by the professors at CSU turns out to be a feasible proposition to be used in surgical implants, then it’s quite possible that future implants won’t be rejected by the body — minimising the danger faced by patients currently, such as blood clotting or infection.
The research was conducted by Arun Kota, an expert in materials that repel liquids, and Ketul Popat, an expert in biocompatible materials and tissue engineering — assistant and associate professors, respectively, in Mechanical Engineering and Biomedical Engineering departments of the University.
The researchers used titanium, which is commonly used to make implants and medical devices, and altered its surface using chemicals — creating a barrier between the metal and blood.
“The reason blood clots is because it finds cells in the blood to go to and attach. Normally, blood flows in vessels. If we can design materials where blood barely contacts the surface, there is virtually no chance of clotting, which is a coordinated set of events. Here, we’re targeting the prevention of the first set of events,” said Ketul Popat.
Blood clotting is the end result of platelet adhesion with the foreign material and eventually its rejection. Currently, patients with implants are given blood thinners in order to avoid blood clotting.
The research points out that these blood thinners aren’t full proof either and can lead to complications in the long run.
Scientists are of the view that materials that have an affinity towards blood are better suited to make implants compatible, but the researchers are using the repellent reaction of blood to come up with a better-suited solution for surgical implants.
“What we are doing is the exact opposite. We are taking a material that blood hates to come in contact with, in order to make it compatible with blood,” said Arun Kota.
The researchers conducted experiments using a variety of titanium surfaces, coating it with different chemical textures and compared the platelet adhesion on each one of them.
They concluded that Fluorinated nanotubes are the most suitable as they offer the best protection against clotting.
The experiments are still ongoing and nothing concrete can be concluded about these findings as these were carried out in a lab — real world application of the same might differ quite a lot.
Since titanium is widely used in medical science, it wouldn’t be a great deal for the industry to shift to this new technology.
If the research has valid application in the real world, it can prove to be a boon for people going for implants in the future as they wouldn’t have to rely on medications to avert blood clotting or infection.