Researchers at a Shanghai laboratory have transformed silk into screws to stabilize skull bones during brain surgery, according to a report in www.technicaltextile.net. After extracting silk proteins from the cocoons of the Bombyx mori silkworm, the scientists converted them into fixing devices like screws and linking stripes. After animal trials, the devices’ properties, such as strength and durability, have been improved.
The work was led by Mao Ying, vice president of the Fudan University’s affiliated Huashan Hospital, and Tao Hu, researcher at the Shanghai Institute of Microsystem and Information Technology. Their results were published in a recent issue of Advanced Healthcare Materials, a Chinese news agency reported.
Previously screws were generally made of metals, which were likely to cause foreign-body sensations resulting in discomfort, infection and immunological rejection. “Compared with metal or chemical materials, silk devices have outstanding biocompatibility that induces no foreign-body reaction, and controlled degradation without generating hazardous residues,” said Tao. Additionally, silk is much less expensive.
The silk devices include a chip-shaped film in which medicine can be wrapped, which will be released to treat inflammation and heal injured tissue when the silk proteins start degrading in the brain.
The devices are likely to complete clinical trials within the next five years.