Covering the antibiotics with lamellar inorganic protectors protects the antibacterial agents. (Credit: KeAi)

Researchers have fabricated antibiotic-containing 3D scaffold implants at high temperatures. These scaffolds not only support bone regeneration but manage the bone infections that can arise as a result of injury or surgery. Incorporating antibiotics into these scaffolds is not straightforward because the 3D printing process consists of melting the material at high temperatures and antibiotics are heat sensitive.

Scientists found that covering the antibiotics with lamellar inorganic protectors, prior to mixing them with the polymer and placing them in the 3D scaffolds, not only protected the antibacterial agents but also enabled a more controlled release. This extended the period the antimicrobials were active and helped keep local antibiotic concentrations under potentially toxic levels. At the same time, the cells in contact with these scaffolds maintained their viability and could perform normal cell functions, including bone formation — the goal of the implant.

Until now, the direct incorporation of antibiotics and other bioactive molecules within 3D printed scaffolds has been limited to the few polymers that can be processed at low temperatures. This novel approach shows that the library of polymers can be expanded to include many more.

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