From beehive to bone cement
Royal Society of Chemistry, 13 November 2014
Taking inspiration from honey bees, scientists in South Korea have incorporated a compound used in beehives into a new strong biomaterial with sustained antimicrobial properties.
Bone cements have been used in surgery since the 1940s and work like a grout to fill the gaps between orthopaedic implants and bones. The most commonly used bone cements are made from a synthetic resin called poly (methyl methacrylate), or PMMA, and have recently been loaded with antibiotics, such as gentamycin, in an attempt to reduce healthcare related infections. However, the addition of antibiotics has raised concerns over antibiotic resistance, potential carcinogenic effects and the reduced mechanical strength of PMMA.
To overcome these potentially harmful limitations, a team led by Jeong Ho Chang at the Korea Institute of Ceramic Engineering and Technology, have developed PMMA bone cement loaded with caffeic acid phenethyl ester (CAPE). CAPE is an active component of bee propolis, a resin-like mixture collected by honey bees from various trees and buds and used to fill small gaps in the beehive. CAPE is thought to have antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anti-cancer effects and has already been approved for use in foods, drinks and cosmetics by the Food and Drug Administration.
The researchers were not only able to demonstrate that CAPE-loaded PMMA is an effective antimicrobial against Staphylococcus aureus, but it also has much better compressive strength than antibiotic-loaded PMMA…