A strategy for coating complicated surfaces with biodegradable polymers has been pioneered by a team of researchers. It could enable development of coatings for implants that dissolve in the body, such as drugs to improve healing. Until now, it was impossible to take a suture that biodegrades and apply a vapor-based coating that would provide benefits similar to that found with polymer coatings applied via chemical vapor deposition.
The researchers demonstrated their technique using two different monomers. By controlling the ratio between the two monomers, and the chemical groups hanging off the sides of the monomers, the team could control how quickly water could get into the polymer and begin breaking up the chain into its nontoxic elements.
The group is testing the coating technique with biodegradable scaffolds that they use for implanting stem cells to help heal wounds involving gaps in tissue. They are also beginning a project to coat biodegradable dental implants with growth factors to speed healing.