A novel, newly developed antimicrobial plastic is being tested by a Southern U.S. healthcare group as a potentially safer way to protect catheters and other medical devices from germs.
Mackinac Polymers of Fort Myers, Florida, is working with West Tennessee Healthcare in Jackson, Tennessee to evaluate a technology that binds germ-killing silver nanoparticles directly to the backbone of polymers such as thermoplastic urethane (TPU) widely used in hospitals.
Mackinac Polymers was awarded a patent last July for a synthesis process that integrates nanoparticles and graphene into various polymers. The lead inventor is Ralph Locke and the technology is called “the Locke Process”.
Mackinac Polymers, LLC was founded in 2011 as an intellectual property holding company by the Mackinac Group, a research firm.
The patent specifically describes conductive benefits of the process, but medical applications may also become important because Mackinac says that germ-killing additives cannot leach from compounds using its approach.
The invention begins with a “polymeric precursor that includes at least one component selected from the group that includes isocyanates, polyisocyanates, MDI-terminated prepolymers and an effective amount of a nanoparticulate component.” The nanoparticulate component includes graphene that is associated with the prepolymer.
“We are currently marketing the material to catheter, stent, hose, and medical device manufacturers,” Nate Sterling, a spokesman for Mackinac, told The Molding Blog.