Scientists from RMIT University have developed glowing stitches with 'strong antimicrobial properties', potentially helping to reduce the risk of infections after surgery. The development has given both researchers and scientists hope that the stitches could eventually be used in a medical setting to help reduce infection, and make post-op monitoring easier. So, how exactly did the team at RMIT University develop the new material? Let's take a look.
To create the specialized stitches, the team used a textile manufacturing facility to distribute carbon dots (a combination of iodine and small nanoparticles) throughout the sterile surgical threads. This would give the threads the ability to show up on CT scans, due to their wavelengths. These can be 'tuned' to 'glow' more or less strongly. However, this isn't the only advantage. Thanks to the iodine, the threads also hold antimicrobial properties, with researchers finding that they killed 99% of highly drug-resistant bacteria.
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Both of these benefits could potentially help to reduce infection post-surgery, and help doctors to better monitor their patients. For example, it could help surgeons better identify the location of internal meshes on CT scans, which will allow for better treatment, accuracy and efficiency. In addition, it could help surgeons to decrease surgery duration and improve surgical accuracy. They could also be made to be biodegradable, yet another bonus.
“This project opens up a lot of practical solutions for surgeons, which has been our aim from the start and the reason we have involved clinicians in the study.” said Dr Shadi Houshyar, the study lead author and Vice Chancellor’s Senior Research Fellow from RMIT University’s School of Engineering.
Other benefits include that the threads are safe, as well as being cheap and easy to produce. Next, the researchers are planning to move onto pre-clinical trials, where they will be able to further test their 'smart stitches'.