Dr. K. Wang

Bone Cement with Silver Nano particles: Long-Term Broad-Spectrum Prevention of Implant-Related Infections

The surgery was a success, but the patient died: It’s an old vaudeville joke that isn’t funny at all in the real world of healthcare.

That’s why Co-Investigators Kyumin Whang, Ph.D. of the University of Texas Health Science Center – San Antonio and Gregg Siegel, M.S. of BDC are teaming up on a study involving deep wound infection following total joint arthroplasty. This is a devastating complication for physicians, hospitals, patients, and their loved ones. These infections are a leading cause of morbidity, and a significant economic burden to the healthcare system. And, with an aging population and increased life expectancies, the number of arthroplasties is expected to rise dramatically over the next 20 years. The growing number of high-risk patients undergoing surgery further increases the severity of septic complications and other adverse outcomes. Yes, antibiotics have been incorporated into bone cement for prophylaxis and orthopedic applications for more than 30 years. However, antibiotic-laden bone cement is not generally indicated for preventive use due to concerns about cost, long-term mechanical performance, and most importantly, the potential for developing antibiotic resistance.

It’s definitely time to find a replacement for antibiotics in bone cement. And that’s why BDC is working on finding a new way to deliver a known anti-microbial agent: silver.

It has been extensively researched because of its exceptional safety and efficacy. And the risk of silver inducing widespread bacterial resistance is considered to be remote. Recently, the incorporation of silver nanoparticles into medical devices has been investigated. But problems encountered with homogeneously dispersing silver nanoparticles into biomaterials and the need for complex processes and harsh chemicals required for synthesis have limited its use. We are working on Phase I of an STTR grant funded by the National Institute on Aging to develop an innovative, single-step method to synthesize silver nanoparticles in situ in acrylic resins. Thus, the goal of this project is to develop a long-lasting, broad-spectrum, antimicrobial bone cement using this novel method to generate silver nanoparticles in situ.

The development of a safe and effective antimicrobial bone cement that would not induce drug resistance and would overcome the limitations of current products would have a significant impact on public health.