By Louise McHenry, UT/ reporter
Polyurethane is used for a wide variety of medical purposes. This versatile, biocompatible polymer is suitable for uses from wound dressings to catheters, but PU is also at the forefront of medical science, finding its place in unique, vital devices, which tackle advanced diseases and make huge differences to people’s quality of life.
In London, Prof Alex Seifalian and his team of postdoctoral students from University College London (UCL) have developed a nanocomposite called POSS-PCU (polyhedral oligomeric silsesquioxane-poly (carbonate-urea) urethane) which can be used for bypasses, stents and as tissue scaffolds for building new tracheas and even noses.
Work on the material began around 2001/2002, when Seifalian and his team started research into nanocomposite polymers using nanoparticles to enhance the mechanical behaviour of the polymer and its biocompatibility. The base of the nanocomposite is PCU, which is synthesised with POSS, a nanoparticle of 1.5 nanometres.
Bayer MaterialScience supplies the raw materials used.
Seifalian and his team tested a number of polymers and nanoparticles before settling on POSS-PCU, he told UTI in a 22 Aug telephone interview. The material itself is not expensive to make, Seifalian said, and if required, a body part such as a trachea can be made in one week in the lab.
In the lab, the team can make up to one litre of POSS-PCU. On a commercial scale, Hybrid Plastics in the US and…