Silk Road to Infection Control

Tuesday, March 3, 2015
Specialty: 

As surgeons look for antibiotic delivery systems that won’t need 
subsequent removal, silk may not be the obvious option.

However, silk and magnesium are key components of the approach researchers from Tufts University, Shanghai Institute of Microsystem and Information Technology, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign presented at a recent IEEE MEMS conference. A tiny electronic implant consisting of a coil and resistor made of magnesium and folded into a silk pocket was used subdermally to cure staph infections in mice. The scientists wirelessly activated the implant for two 10-minutes intervals, producing heat and killing bacteria. In another version, ampicillin was added to the silk and magnesium delivery device, which released the drug when heated. Magnesium and silk both dissolve in the body, and researchers note that they can modify the crystalline structure of silk so that it degrades in anything from weeks to mere minutes.