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A gel created by Rice University researchers delivers time-released antibiotics to ward off infection while a patient heals from facial reconstruction procedures. Porous polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA) implants are filled with the gel and leach its protective antibiotic contents to surrounding tissue, protecting the tissue from infection for several weeks.

The researchers, led by Rice alumnus Paschalia (Lina) Mountziaris, noted that infections from the external environment and from neighboring structures such as the nasal passages, the sinuses, and the mouth can attack vulnerable tissue.

Soldiers are at particular risk, said Mikos, as battlefield injuries are often prone to infection from multidrug-resistant species of bacteria that invade between the time of injury and treatment.

The thermogel consists of a block copolymer, a self-assembling combination of two polymers. Mikos said the thermogel can be customized at the time of implantation with the appropriate antibiotics, which also affect the rate and duration of release, before infusion into the prefabricated spacer.

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