Our goal is to understand the interactions of medical devices with patients’ blood, proteins and cells
with a view to developing more sophisticated and compatible materials for medical devices.
The Cardiovascular Medical Devices Group works to understand the interactions of medical devices with patients’ blood, proteins and cells to develop more sophisticated and compatible materials for medical devices for the diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular disease.
What impact will this research have?
Despite the widespread use of medical devices in cardiovascular medicine, including artificial hearts, vascular stents, vascular grafts, heart valves, pacemakers, catheters and cardiopulmonary bypass circuits, many side effects occur due to the materials used to make these devices, such as blood clots (thrombosis) and microbe adhesion (biofouling). Thrombosis of medical devices is currently managed with medication that causes additional complications, such as bleeding from antiplatelet or anticoagulant drugs. Biofouling is treated with antibiotics, however, antibiotics can’t always penetrate the biofilm and the overuse of antibiotics is leading to antibiotic resistant pathogens. Increased understanding of biointerface interactions and methodology to assess materials could lead to the development of new more compatible materials and devices to reduce the use of drugs and risks for patients.
Current projects and goals
Our team applies cutting edge bioengineering tools to develop new methodologies to assess and understand the interplay of events at the biointerface, where the devices interact with the patient, and manipulate this interplay to improve medical device function, create novel medical devices and diagnostics and both drug and non-drug based avenues for therapies.
Creating micro-systems to study medical devices and their failure mechanisms
In order to better understand thrombosis and biofouling and develop improved materials for medical devices, we are creating innovative micro-systems to study medical device materials in the laboratory. Utilising the new facilities at Australian Institute of Nanoscale Science and Technology (AINST) at the University of Sydney, this multidisciplinary project aims to create micro-systems that mimic aspects of medical device materials and geometries. Using these micro-systems, we will study how variations in material properties and blood flow dynamics govern the initiation of biomaterial-induced thrombosis. This knowledge can ultimately be used to improve or generate new materials for use in medical devices to improve their function and patient outcomes.
Slippery surface coatings to prevent thrombosis and pathogenic biofouling of medical devices
Newly developed, super slippery, liquid-repellent surface coatings have great potential to revolutionise medical devices, imparting anti-adhesive properties to materials. Given that surface adhesion of proteins and cells is the driving factor in medical device fouling in processes such as thrombosis and pathogen adhesion in biofilm formation, this repellent surface coating is being investigated to prevent thrombosis of materials. As part of the Australian Centre for Microscopy and Microanalysis (ACMM) at the University of Sydney, the Charles Perkins Centre houses a suite of microscopes with high resolution capabilities to visualis–e biomolecule-surface interactions. In this project, we aim to elucidate the mechanism by which these liquid-surfaces are anti-adhesive to proteins, mammalian cells and bacteria, with the goal of translating this to medical devices in the clinic to prevent their failure.