Biomodics' patented IPN technology delivers unique improvements to medical grade silicone

The patented IPN technology in medical tubing and catheters

Biomodics' patented IPN technology delivers unique improvements to medical grade silicone. It enables the creation of medical devices with reduced infection risk as well as new drug delivery applications.

In many medical devices, silicone rubber has found its use due to desirable properties such as chemical inertness and high flexibility. At the core of Biomodics' IPN technology is the ability to impregnate silicone medical tubing with a cross-linked polymer aqua gel. Doing that renders the material hydrophilic. When used in silicone medical tubing a hydrophilic surface of the material will make it much more difficult for microorganisms and bacteria to adhere to the material which will eventually lead to the formation of a biofilm. Biofilms pose special problems as they are often the cause of infections. Bacteria in the microfilm are hard to reach with antibiotics and can quite easily become resistant to treatment as gene transfer is facilitated within the microenvironment.

By changing the chemistry of the silicone rubber. Biomodics’ approach is to produce interpenetration polymer networks, IPN, of silicone rubber and hydrogel material in supercritical carbon dioxide (scCO2). The impregnated hydrogel material functions as a reservoir and transport facility inside the matrix. This method widens the range of drugs that can be released from silicone rubber to include hydrophilic drugs, such as silver ions, sulfonamides, and antimicrobial peptides. This novel technique is based on the use of scCO2 processes to enhance the material characteristics of silicone rubber by applying the unique properties of scCO2 as a solvent to bring new compounds or agents inside the silicone rubber matrix. The polymer incorporated in the Silicone Hydrogel IPN material absorbs water and facilitate the drug release.

In the process where the polymers are incorporated into the silicone, there is also the opportunity to load the material with other substance - e.g. drugs. With the hydrogel, the silicone has now changed from an impenetrable material into a semipermeable membrane. As a consequence IPN silicone has the ability to release the loaded substances in a controlled long term fashion. This is especially interesting in designing new drug delivery applications but could also be useful in a number of industrial applications of silicone.

New improvements to medical tubing with IPN silicone

With the development of new devices based on IPN technology, hospitals will be better equipped to fight the all too common device associated infections. IPN silicone can prevent biofilm formation in catheters.

Silicone is the material of choice today in many medical tubing devices for good reasons. The material is perfectly biocompatible with no toxicity; it is flexible and yet durable. Biomodics patented IPN technology allows essential improvements compared to standard silicone. With IPN technology, a polymer hydrogel is incorporated in the silicone matrix. This renders the material hydrophilic making it much more difficult for microorganisms to adhere to the surface forming a biofilm. Unlike other technologies where a hydrophilic coating is applied the effect does not wear off with IPN technology. The hydrogel constitutes a second interconnected network throughout the material creating a semi-permeable membrane. This enables the diffusion of antimicrobials or even other pharmaceuticals over the membrane.

The drugs can even be part of the hydrogel creating a novel drug delivery approach. Finally constructing a urinary Foley catheter from IPN silicone would allow the administration of drugs through the balloon of the catheter with controlled kinetics and release. Biomodics are currently doing preclinical testing of both urinary Foley catheters as well as central venous catheters. Other devices with medical tubing will be developed subsequently.

IPN silicone offers new opportunities in drug delivery

IPN technology provides a new vehicle for drug delivery. It enables the development of new drug delivery applications with controlled long-term drug release and elution.

Biomodics is pushing to get new devices in the hands of health care professionals. Currently, pre-clinical testing is being carried out of both urinary Foley catheters as well as central venous catheters. But the unique IPN technology also holds big promises in developing new drug delivery applications. Of special interest are applications in gynecology, diabetes, and hormone therapy. Biomodics are currently conducting compatibility and performance test evaluating suitable drugs for creating new drug delivery applications. Of particular interest are highly potent drugs that should be administered over long term.
Biomodics' Drug Delivery solutions incorporate water-absorbing polymers in the silicone device, which creates a silicone hydrogel. The silicone hydrogel can be loaded with a wide range of agents, from silver complexes to active drugs. The silicone hydrogel exhibits an unprecedented long-term controlled drug release and elution. Complex shaped silicone medical devices can be turned into drug delivery devices. The process modifies the bulk material and therefore produces a unique uniform product.

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