Anti-fouling and cell-interactive anti-fouling plasma polymer coatings for cochlear implants

01 January 2018 → 31 December 2021
Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO)
Research disciplines
No data available
cochlear implants
Project description

A cochlear implant provides a sense of sound to people with severe-to-profound hearing loss. A
complication of these implants is infection, which often leads to implant explantation. A frequently
investigated strategy to avoid infection is preventing adhesion of bacteria on the implant, which is
mostly done by attaching polymeric chains to the implant surface. This technique however has
limitations: (1) it is a costly, multi-step process and (2) its intended anti-fouling effect is temporary
when clinically used. To address these issues, this project will use a one-step, cost-effective
technique (plasma polymerization) to deposit a coating, which will always consist of a mixture of
chemical groups that repel bacteria and cells and groups that don't. To deal with this, two
modifications will be applied to the coatings: the chemical groups that do not repel bacteria and
cells will be (1) converted to groups that do have a repelling character and (2) coupled to cellinteractive
components. This should respectively result in (1) coatings that resist bacterial and cell
adhesion better and (2) coatings at which bacteria do not adhere, while the host cells can. This
leads to complete coverage of the implant with cells, which inhibits bacterial adhesion, before the
surface loses its anti-fouling effect. If successful, this project can lead to a major breakthrough in
anti-fouling coatings on cochlear implants and surface modifications of medical implants in