Ninja Polymer Hydrogel Eliminates Microbes

How could an aseptic polymer gel be used in medical device packaging?

Jayaraman Kiruthi Vasan

A drug killing only bad cells without affecting good ones and vanishing without a trace or side-effect is on everybody’s wish list. Who would not like the SWAT heroes who free hostages by killing bad guys and ensure good guys are never hurt? However, this is a radical wish considering the fact that conventional drug delivery mechanisms have been known to result in unwanted side effects and increased resistance to antibiotics.

IBM researchers, while working on chip development with special semiconductor manufacturing processes, bumped on to a discovery that revealed that material characteristics could be manipulated at the atomic level to control its movements. This inspired them to find out the potential cell-level applications of this discovery in bio-medicine, which led to the development of an anti-microbial polymer that is both biocompatible and biodegradable.

These newly discovered Ninja Polymers could reach the infected area rapidly, destroy the harmful microbes while ensuring healthy cells are untouched, and get out of the system through normal biological process.
Combining a positive charge, biocompatibility, and water solubility, these sticky nanostructures, when heated to normal body temperature after mixing with water, form a synthetic hydrogel. According to IBM Research, hydrogel sticks to negatively charged bacteria and destroys it by rupturing its membrane. Further, it prevents the bacteria from regenerating or spreading infection.

This gel can be a major ingredient in anti-microbial creams, therapeutic drugs for wound healing, and potential end products such as hand sanitizers and other disinfectants, and can be used as a coating on implants and interventional devices such as catheters and surgical instruments for infection control.

It would be interesting to learn the insights of the community as to how Ninja gel or its derivatives could be used to make medical packaging better. Share your thoughts.

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Jayaraman Kiruthi Vasan, Consultant - Electromechanical Systems, Healthcare Technology Innovation Centre, Indian Institute Of Technology, Madras

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