Developers of 'Fuzzy Fiber' Eye Glaucoma Applications

August 13, 2010

2 Min Read
Developers of 'Fuzzy Fiber' Eye Glaucoma Applications

The notion of applying novel aircraft materials to the medical device industry appears to be taking off. Just yesterday, Medtech Pulse reported on Wichita-based researchers that had successfully employed an aviation composite to regrow bone. In that same vein, scientists at the University of Dayton Research Institute (OH) have announced that their smart nanomaterial, originally developed for use in aircraft coatings and wind turbines, could enhance treatment of the damaging eye condition glaucoma.

Nicknamed the 'fuzzy fiber' by its inventors, the carbon material could enable the development of biocompatible, nonclogging carbon drainage tubes for glaucoma patients. Implantation of a shunt to alleviate intraocular pressure by facilitating fluid drainage is an option for glaucoma patients for whom other options are not working. However, these drainage tubes are often constructed from silicone, which, owing to its 'extreme' biocompatibility, promotes the growth of fibrolast cells on the tubes. In turn, encapsulation of the silicone shunt by these cells can clog the drainage tubes and render them ineffective, according to the researchers.

The carbon fuzzy fiber, however, represents a potential alternative to silicone for this application. To test the theory, the researchers constructed a carbon scaffold and covered it with surface-treated carbon nanotubes. They reported that the fuzzy fiber-based scaffold inhibited the growth of fibrolasts on the drainage tube.

"There's nothing else like it out there. Not only is the material completely biocompatible, eliminating the risk for rejection by the body, it will also serve to preserve the longevity of the implant by keeping it from becoming blocked with tissue," says Ed Timm, owner of Mobius Therapeutics, which sponsored the research. "I believe this will completely change the thought process in the design of future ophthalmic devices."

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