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ACS News Service Weekly PressPac: Wed Aug 28 15:44:00 EDT 2013

Material in dissolvable sutures could treat brain infections, reducing hospital stays

"Biodegradable Drug-Eluting Poly[lactic-co-glycol acid] Nanofibers for the Sustainable Delivery of Vancomycin to Brain Tissue: In Vitro and in Vivo Studies"
ACS Chemical Neuroscience

A plastic material already used in absorbable surgical sutures and other medical devices shows promise for continuous administration of antibiotics to patients with brain infections, scientists are reporting in a new study. Use of the material, placed directly on the brain’s surface, could reduce the need for weeks of costly hospital stays now required for such treatment, they say in the journal ACS Chemical Neuroscience.

Shih-Jung Liu and colleagues explain that infections are life-threatening complications that occur in about 5-10 percent of patients who have brain surgery. Current treatment involves intravenous antibiotics for up to eight weeks and extended, costly hospital stays. Previous studies showed that drug-delivering plastics could release antibiotics directly into the brain. However, additional surgery was needed to remove the plastic when treatment finished. Liu’s team sought to develop a biodegradable version using a dissolvable plastic called PLGA.

They describe development of PLGA fibers that release vancomycin, a powerful antibiotic that kills many microbes, including the infamous “MRSA,” which shrugs off most other known antibiotics. They tested the fibers in rats, which are stand-ins for humans in these types of studies. The fibers successfully released vancomycin for more than eight weeks in the brain and did so without apparent side effects.

The authors acknowledge funding from Chang Gung Memorial Hospital.

The challenge of delivering to the brain a continuous regimen of antibiotics in case of infection could be met with plastic nanofibers that release medication directly to the affected site.
Credit: iStockphoto/Thinkstock