Preventing Infection With Nanotechnology By Using Silver Nanoparticles as Medical Equipment Coating

I-Flow Corporation is leading and helping to define a rapidly emerging trend of using silver as an antimicrobial agent to help reduce infections with its ON-Q® PainBuster® with ON-Q SilverSoaker® Antimicrobial Catheter combination. This approach was supported in a recent study published in The Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy (Roe et al), entitled “Antimicrobial surface functionalization of plastic catheters by silver nanoparticles.” The study confirmed the potential usefulness of plastic catheters coated with proprietary silver nanoparticles, because of their demonstrated antimicrobial properties, and concluded that the treated catheters may be useful in reducing infectious complications in patients with indwelling catheters.

Since early 2006 patients have benefited from I-Flow’s foresight to market and sell the ON-Q SilverSoaker, a patented Soaker catheter that is treated with SilvaGard®, a specially-formulated antimicrobial silver agent developed by AcryMed, Inc, an I-Flow subsidiary. SilvaGard is an established antimicrobial coating that is effective against a wide variety of microorganisms and common pathogens, including MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), that may cause surgical site infections (SSI).

The Roe et al study, published in February, measured microbial and biofilm formation against pathogens most commonly involved in catheter-related infections. The surface of the catheters was coated with a thin layer of sustained-release silver nanoparticles which then eluted over a period of 10 days. The coated catheters showed significant in vitro antimicrobial activity and inhibited biofilm formation of Escherichia coli, Enterococcus, Staphylococcus aureaus, and other strains of bacteria.

“Hospital-acquired infections, especially those caused by MRSA, are a contemporary and critical healthcare concern. I-Flow is leading a trend to help reduce dangerous and potentially deadly infections. The use of SilvaGard as an antimicrobial agent is a tremendous benefit to patients because it combats pathogens that may cause infections,” said President and CEO, Donald M. Earhart of I-Flow Corporation, the manufacturer of ON-Q. “This exciting silver nanoparticle technology coupled with our infection prevention focus is a key reason that we recently acquired AcryMed,” he continued.

ON-Q is already labeled to significantly reduce pain better than narcotics alone and to significantly reduce narcotics intake following surgery. Results from a multi-center colorectal study conducted in 2007 showed that patients who received ON-Q PainBuster with ON-Q SilverSoaker to relieve post-surgical pain in the study had significantly less risk of developing an SSI and had a significant reduction in hospital length of stay. ON-Q patients often do not experience the immune-suppressive response of narcotics, which can essentially weaken patients and make it more difficult for their bodies to fight an infection.

Mr. Earhart continued, “ON-Q is the only pain relief pump to include a catheter coated with SilvaGard and the first and only to document an infection reduction capability. This type of technology redefines recovery for patients and will help to establish guidelines for surgical site care in the future. This is especially relevant in view of the announcement by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) that for discharges occurring on or after October 1, 2008, hospitals will not receive additional payment for patients in which certain conditions were not present on admission, such as hospital-acquired infections.”

Staph infections, such as MRSA, are resistant to certain antibiotics and thus may be hard to treat. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 100,000 people a year develop a serious hospital-acquired MRSA infection and it is blamed for almost 20,000 deaths annually. This is more deaths in the U.S. per year than is attributed to HIV/AIDS.

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