Technology achieves to eliminate fungus from surgical materials

Photo: Application of a catheter

The scientific product destroys those microorganisms that proliferate in the organism and protects it, especially when the immune system is weakened; © National Autonomous University of Mexico

When a catheter having this technology touches the skin or a body contaminated by fungi, it releases the antifungal agent that immediately attacks harmful microorganisms.

Specialists at the Institute of Nuclear Sciences of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) led by Sofia Guillermina Burillo Amezcua, developed a system that provides antifungal properties of 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, part of the doctoral thesis of the student Tania Segura, named Antifungals Bioinspired Systems, is useful for its implementation in medical devices such as catheters. This is because specialists at UNAM managed to implement a component called ergosterol to certain surgical materials, which retain drugs such as natamycin, histamiycin or vancomycin that 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 these conditions they reproduce in a much larger rate than usual. This commonly occurs in situations such as surgery or when it is necessary to introduce some kind of devices or catheters," explained 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, an antifungal agent, 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 is formed from an Antifungal Bioinspired System, histamine or other antifungal drug is contained in such a device, killing microorganisms" said the specialist. She added that although currently functionalization with ergosterol has been conducted on silicone films, it is possible to implement it in other materials such as polyolefins or polyvinyl chloride used in urinary catheters.

The evidence of effectiveness of this system is developed in collaboration with Carmen Alvarez Lorenzano and Angel Conchiero, Spanish specialists from the Faculty of Pharmacy at the University of Santiago de Compostela, Spain. According to Burillo Amezcua, both institutions share a patent, and the development will be presented shortly to entrepreneurs of the pharmaceutical industry.; Source: National Autonomous University of Mexico