A story in R&D Magazine reports that a material containing licorice extract is coming into its own as a potential substance for sterilizing medical devices. This material, according to the article, can also be used during sterilization to protect the biological components contained in medical implantable devices.
German and Austrian researchers are using the licorice-based material—provided by Leukocare AG—as a coating to explain how conventional sterilization techniques based on radiation or exposure to toxic gas can damage the functional biological device components of the devices. Medical devices, the scientists say, are increasingly using pharmacologically active proteins, antibodies, and other biomolecules. However, such sterilization techniques as beta and gamma irradiation or exposure to ethylene oxide can damage these molecules and ruin the devices.
Consisting of glycyrrhizic acid, an ingredient found in licorice, the researchers’ coating does not contain sugars, sugar-alcohol compounds, or proteins, which can interfere with the biological activity of medical devices. To test their coating, the scientists coupled and stabilized an antiinflammatory antibody to a porous polyurethane surface. They discovered that even when devices were subjected to radiation, the coating and the proteins remained unaffected.
According to the researchers, the coating can be used to manufacture improved biofunctionalized medical devices, including bone implants, vascular stents, wound-care dressings, and combination products.