A new anti-infection technology developed by West Virginia University researchers may help soldiers avoid infection on any injury they sustain during wars.
Dr. Bingyun Li, of the university's Department of Orthopaedics, has revealed that the new technology is basically a drug-delivery system that involves microcapsules and nanocoating, which have been found to work in animal studies.
Writing about their work, the researchers have revealed that their tests have already involved interleukin-12, a drug currently in anti-cancer clinical trials.
"These pioneering techniques could be important to the United States because of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The treatment of battlefield casualties is expensive, and the infection rate runs from 2 percent to 15 percent. In some cases, because the organisms have developed resistance, antibiotics don't work," Li says.
"Interleukin-12 will maximize the body's natural response to an extent where infections can be prevented without the risk of the offending bacteria developing resistance to the treatment, as is becoming more of a problem with antibiotic therapy alone. With nanocoating, the drug is right where it needs to be - at the interface of the implant and your tissue.
"With the microcapsule, the drug can be injected or sprayed where desired, and the nanocoating and microcapsule prolong the half-life of interleukin-12," the researcher added.
Unlike antibiotic therapy, both methods deliver the interleukin-12 locally rather than spread it throughout the body, and that is why side effects are minimal, Li said.
A research article describing the novel techniques has been published in the Journal of Orthopaedic Research.