UniSA researchers discover new polymeric compound that can streamline the way we diagnose cancer

Professor Krasimir VasilevProfessor Krasimir Vasilev and members of his team in the School of Engineering and Future Industries Institute at the University of South Australia were recently awarded the 2016 John A Brodie Medal for achievements in Chemical Engineering for research that could change the way we diagnose cancer.

The research undertaken by Prof Vasilev and his team and presented by Dr Melanie MacGregor, considers the properties of a novel class of plasma polymer coatings that are based on oxazoline precursors and have now been patented.

“We have identified a new polymeric compound that has or the first time been turned into a nanothin coating using a single step plasma deposition approach developed in our group,” Prof Vasilev says.

“These novel oxazoline based coatings have a set of unique properties that make them important across a diverse range of applications in the biomedical field.

“The coatings have excellent biocompatibility and the capacity to reduce inflammatory responses which makes them excellent candidates for placement on implantable medical devices.

“The patented deposition process also allows for the retention of oxazoline functionalities on the surface of the coatings which makes strong chemical bonding of biological molecules possible.”

The new plasma deposited Polyoxazoline (PPOx) films can be deposited on virtually any kind of material and because of their strength and their unique chemistry they allow for the irreversible immobilisation of biomolecules such as cancer specific antibodies.

Prof Vasilev says the research team is currently working on developing a new generation of cancer diagnostic devices based on the capture of cancer cells directly onto the PPOx surface from bodily fluids.

“Another intriguing property of these coatings is their capacity to inhibit bacterial colonization,” Prof Vasilev says.

“This is also an opportunity to fill an urgent need in medicine for efficient antibacterial technology so we are currently developing advanced antibacterial coatings for medical devices such as dental and fixation implants, wound dressings and catheters.

“Mammalian cells happily grow on the polyoxazoline films while bacteria struggle to form biofilms and these properties are sought after in the field of medical implants where microorganism colonisation of biomedical device surfaces is a leading cause of hospital acquired chronic infection, sometimes caused by antibiotic resistant bugs.”

The John A Brodie Medal is awarded by Engineers Australia for the best paper in the discipline of chemical engineering presented at the Chemeca Conference or any other conference or meeting sponsored by Engineers Australia.

2016 winner: MacGregor-Ramiasa, MN, Cavallaro, A, Visalakshan, RM, Gonzalez, L, Vasilev, K as co-authors of the paper titled “Plasma deposited polyoxazoline coatings, a versatile new class of biomaterials”

Media contact Katrina McLachlan 0414972537 katrina.mclachlan@unisa.edu.au

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