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Scientists at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) have developed a new lubricant material that makes urinary catheters, intravenous catheters, and implants insusceptible to E. coli and Staph bacterial build-up. Despite the use of antibiotics to prevent infection, these bacterial biofilms that form on medical equipment are responsible for over 80% of all microbial infections in the body. But by using this new repellent surface technology that infuses liquid into polymers that repels deadly bacterial build-up, ultimately preventing the possibility of infection.

With the danger of antibiotic resistant bacteria becoming more prevalent, catheter lubrication with this new silicone based material can be used to coat surfaces, therefore creating an added line of defence. The coating itself will act as a dynamic barrier by consistently coming to the surface of the catheter even if other liquids like water, blood, or urine come in contact with the silicone without the need for antibiotics.

“The solid silicone tubing is saturated with silicone oil, soaking it up into all of the tiny spaces in its molecular structure so that the two materials really become completely integrated into one,” said Caitlin Howell, a Postdoctoral Researcher at the Wyss Institute and a co-author on the new findings.


It’s this saturation process that makes the liquid-infused polymer so powerful and could result in a material able to withstand conventional sterilization methods and long-lasting use. This is due to the fact that the surface does not lose its slipperiness over time—the silicone oil continuously diffuses to the surface, replenishing itself to replace any oil that is pulled away by liquids flowing against it, such as urine, blood, or gastro-intestinal fluids.

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The goal of such a product is to prevent bacterial accumulating from forming into dangerous biofilms that tend to form on the surfaces of medical equipment like mechanical heart valves, urinary catheters, intravenous catheters, and various other implants. The discovery of these liquid-infused silicone polymers creates a product that is highly capable of storing a considerable volumes of lubricating liquids in their molecular structure, like sponges.

This new technology can ultimately prevent routine surgical procedures turning into severe bacterial infections, like urinary tract infections (UTIs) or Staphylococcus epidermidis. Because the prevention of these kinds of tissue and blood infections are hard to avoid even in the world’s cleanest and best-staffed hospital environments. This breakthrough is one of the best ways of keeping medical equipment free from bacteria, rely less on antibiotic treatments.

For Further Information
More on the markets for catheters can be found in this latest edition report published by iData entitled U.S. Market for Urological Devices, which covers the U.S. as a whole, as well as market segments for urinary incontinence devices, stone management devices, BPH treatment devices, urological endoscopes, prostate cancer treatment devices, urodynamic equipment, and nephrostomy devices.

The iData series on the market for urological devices also covers the U.S., India, China, Japan, and 15 countries in Europe. Full reports provide a comprehensive analysis including units sold, procedure numbers, market value, forecasts, as well as detailed competitive market shares and analysis of major players’ success strategies in each market and segment.

Register online or email us at [email protected] for an U.S. Market for Urological Devices report brochure and synopsis.

About Procedure Tracker
Procedure number data is available from iData’s Procedure Tracker service, which allows subscribers to define and analyze procedure data segmented by State, region, hospital, surgery centre, and physician. A customizable dashboard sorts procedure data for further analysis and research.