Porous materials for medical applications

Development of prototype MOF/polymer coatings for medical applications

Dr Stewart Warrender| School of Chemistry

On any given day, approximately one in 25 US patients has at least one infection contracted during the course of their hospital care, demonstrating the need for improved infection control in healthcare facilities. The majority of these infections result from the handling and insertion of some form of device into the body, such as a central line into the bloodstream or urinary catheterisation. Research has shown that when specific preventative steps are taken, the rates of infection can be drastically decreased by up to 70%.

The biologically active gas nitric oxide (NO) could help in the fight against such infections. NO plays an important signalling role in numerous pathways within the body triggering vasodilatory (increasing blood flow), anti-thrombotic and angiogenetic (new blood vessel growth) properties as well as being a broad spectrum antimicrobial agent. However, to date, there are no commercially available products that allow the controlled delivery of NO – primarily due to its physical nature (i.e. a gas) and the requirement to deliver specific doses.

With this in mind, we are developing porous powders called metal organic framework (MOFs) that are able to store and controllably release NO. These powders can be incorporated into coatings on medical devices and can be designed to deliver NO at the correct doses and over appropriate time scales to prevent infection. Furthermore, by using antimicrobial metal ions in the MOF frameworks additional efficacy can be imparted. The technology, which has the potential to reduce healthcare associated infections and procedural complications, is the basis for a new spin-out company called MOFgen Ltd.