Surgical Tribune America

New system eliminates fungus from surgical materials

By Surgical Tribune
September 02, 2014

MEXICO CITY: Specialists at the Institute for Nuclear Sciences of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) have developed a system that imparts antifungal properties to different materials. This scientific product destroys those microorganisms that proliferate in the organism and protects it, especially when the immune system is weakened.

The development, which formed part of a student's doctoral thesis and is named the Antifungal Bioinspired System, could be usefully implemented in medical devices such as catheters. This is because specialists at UNAM managed to incorporate an antifungal agent called ergosterol into surgical materials that retain drugs such as natamycin, histamine or vancomycin to eliminate different types of fungi.

"The human body has several types of fungal colonies in various parts of the body such as the feet, mouth and generally all the cavities, the most common being the Candida species. These microorganisms, which generally pose no risk, are dangerous when the immune system is weak. In such conditions they reproduce at a much higher rate than usual. This commonly occurs in situations such as surgery or when it is necessary to introduce some kind of device or a catheter," explained study leader Sofía Guillermina Burillo Amezcua.

Burillo Amezcua, who is the founder of the Laboratory of Macromolecular Chemistry and Radiation at UNAM, explained that, when the Antifungal Bioinspired System contacts the skin or an organ contaminated with fungi, ergosterol immediately attacks harmful microorganisms.

"For example, the application of a catheter could jeopardize a patient if the medical instrument is contaminated with fungi. But if the medical tool was formed using an Antifungal Bioinspired System, the device contains histamine or some other antifungal drug, killing microorganisms," said the specialist. She added that, although functionalization with ergosterol has been performed in silicone films only thus far, it is possible to implement it in other materials, such as polyolefins or polyvinyl chloride used in urinary catheters.

The testing of the effectiveness of this system was performed in collaboration with Spanish specialists from the Faculty of Pharmacy at the University of Santiago de Compostela in Spain. According to Burillo Amezcua, both institutions share a patent and the development will be presented shortly to entrepreneurs of the pharmaceutical industry.

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