In the field of application of fiber-based medical devices, material and fiber morphology determine the interaction with the surrounding tissue. Inflammatory reactions at hernia meshes pose a risk to patients. The use of a material with high biocompatibility is crucial for the production of medical fibers, and an antimicrobial component can minimize the risk of inflammation. However, the production of porous microfibers from biocompatible polymers and functionalizations with controlledmorphology is difficult with conventional processes, as high temperatures and organic solvents are usually used. The aim of the project is to establish a novel technology for the production of fibers with antimicrobial properties, in which antimicrobial substances are directly incorporated into the polymeric fiber matrix, thus eliminating the need for subsequent coating. The new approach involves an innovative wet spinning process based entirely on aqueous phase inversion using a coacervate phase consisting of a unique biological component in combination with charged synthetic polymers. More specifically, engineered highly charged polypeptides (SUPs) with tailored fusion proteins provide antimicrobial properties, while synthetic polyelectrolytes (PEs) form the backbone of the fiber. The fibers are being developed for use as a material for hernia meshes in close collaboration with the project advisory committee. SMEs in the field of polyelectrolyte production will thus be able to tap into the fiber production market, while fiber manufacturers will be able to expand their product portfolio. SMEs in the field of medical technology will receive a new material for the production of hernia nets in the form of polyelectrolyte fibers, and SMEs in the field of consulting and software development will be able to expand their customer base.
The final publication with the results of the project (in German) can be found here.