Shih-Jung Liu and colleagues explain that infections are life-threatening complications that occur in about 5-10 percent of patients who have brain surgery. Current treatment involves intravenous antibiotics for up to eight weeks and extended, costly hospital stays. Previous studies showed that drug-delivering plastics could release antibiotics directly into the brain. However, additional surgery was needed to remove the plastic when treatment finished. Liu's team sought to develop a biodegradable version using a dissolvable plastic called PLGA.
They describe development of PLGA fibers that release vancomycin, a powerful antibiotic that kills many microbes, including the infamous "MRSA," which shrugs off most other known antibiotics. They tested the fibers in rats, which are stand-ins for humans in these types of studies. The fibers successfully released vancomycin for more than eight weeks in the brain and did so without apparent side effects.