Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft zur Förderung der angewandten Forschung e.V. of München at COMPAMED 2018 in Düsseldorf -- MEDICA - World Forum for Medicine

Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft zur Förderung der angewandten Forschung e.V.

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Nov 12, 2018

No chance for bacteria on implants

Hip and dental implant operations are routine. But not entirely risk-free. They may result in infection that is difficult to control with oral or intravenous antibiotics. In such cases, the implant will probably need to be replaced. Fraunhofer researchers can now apply a precisely matched drug directly to the replacement implant while significantly increasing the effectiveness of the antibiotic via a synergism with silver ions. Their research will be on display at the MEDICA and COMPAMED trade fairs in Düsseldorf from November 12 to 15, 2018 (Hall 8a, Booth P13).

Every step is painful – there’s no getting around a new artificial hip joint. But such operations carry the risk of bacteria getting into the wound and developing into severe infections. Normally these are treated with antibiotics. However, some germs are resistant to certain antibiotics, and administering a strong enough dose of oral or intravenous antibiotics to eliminate all the pathogens on the implant is often impossible. The implant becomes unstable and needs to be replaced. Just how can another infection be avoided?

Significantly increasing the antibiotic’s efficacy

As part of the “Synergy-Boost” project, researchers at the Fraunhofer Institutes for Manufacturing Technology and Advanced Materials IFAM, for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME, for Cell Therapy and Immunology IZI, and for Toxicology and Experimental Medicine ITEM have together developed a technique for preventing further infection. “We apply the antibiotic needed directly to the second implant – bringing it right to the spot where it’s needed,” says Kai Borcherding, a scientist at Fraunhofer IFAM. “We also did research on how antibiotics and silver ions work synergistically, significantly increasing the efficacy of the drug.” While both the antibiotic and the silver ions can eliminate pathogens, their combined effect is much stronger than the sum of their individual effects – they reinforce each other.

Silver ions have long been known to substantially enhance the effect of antibiotics, but research into the mechanism has been limited to isolated experiments. The optimal ratio of silver ions to antibiotic molecules is dependent not only on the drug used, but also on which microorganism is to be killed. The researchers at Fraunhofer IME initially performed large-scale screenings. They investigated 20 different antibiotics with various ratios of silver ions and on four key pathogens – a total of more than 9000 tests – to identify the most effective combinations.

Selecting antibiotics for specific pathogens and applying them topically

If patients suffer from an infection and need a new hip joint or a new dental implant, the first thing the physician will do is to generate an antibiogram. Suitable sample material is taken, the microorganisms from it are cultivated and then analyzed to identify the appropriate antibiotic. This is a standard procedure. The physician then applies the appropriate antibiotic directly to the implant. “At Fraunhofer IFAM, we have already investigated how the antibiotics can be stored,and developed various coating methods to do this,” says Borcherding. The researchers have found a way to structure the surface so that it absorbs the antibiotic. In a vacuum, they apply the coating containing silver to the surface of the implant. Development of the coating process is now complete. Researchers at Fraunhofer IZI and Fraunhofer ITEM must now verify its efficacy. Researchers at Fraunhofer ITEM are also preparing the documentation required for approval of medical devices.

The scientists in the “Synergy-Boost” project are also attempting to answer a further question: Which natural substances from plants or trees might be suitable for synthesizing new antibiotics? The first results from Fraunhofer IZI are promising, but it will take several years before such antibiotics are ready for clinical trials.

The researchers will be demonstrating implant surfaces from their research at the MEDICA and COMPAMED trade fairs in Düsseldorf from November 12 to 15, 2018 (Hall 8a, Booth P13).

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Oct 23, 2018

Fraunhofer FIT at MEDICA and COMPAMED: Electrowetting and Telemedicine

At MEDICA Fraunhofer FIT presents the teliFIT platform for telemedicine and telecoaching, a modular system that can be tailored to a wide range of application requirements and guarantees a very high level of data security. At COMPAMED we present our EWOD-BioPro system that combines electrowetting and confocal microscopy and thus makes it possible to observe the process of biochemical reactions at the single-molecule level.

An important aspect of pharmacology is to understand how active drug ingredients cross-react with endogenous molecules. But until now, such reactions could only be determined after the event. The precise details of the interacting factors remained
unclear. Researchers at Fraunhofer FIT have developed a system that now allows monitoring biochemical reactions at the single-molecule level from start to finish. It is based on the physical effect of ElectroWetting-On-Dielectric (EWOD), widely used in
micro-fluidics. Our EWOD-BioPro system is capable of merging reagent droplets as small as 150nl with very high precision. This allows us to monitor the reaction process using a confocal microscope adapted at FIT, and to record high-resolution
measurements.

"For the first time we can observe the details of how the two droplets interact at the single-molecule level – thus allowing us to monitor the entire chain of events," says Lorenz Sparrenberg from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Information Technology
FIT, who is leading the research project.

Thus, we can study biological interactions under conditions closely resembling those that occur naturally in the human body. In pharmacology, for example, it is important to understand the effects of drug ingredients as precisely as possible and know when
these effects occur. But the combination of EWOD and confocal microscopy may also be used to study the interaction between complementary DNA strands, antibodies and antigens, or enzyme-substrate reactions.

Conventional laboratory tests not only deliver less information but also require much higher quantities of the sample liquids, and take longer to perform. The typical duration of an enzymatic assay, for example, is around 15 – 20 minutes. The EWODBioPro
system can present the results within 30 seconds. It may thus be a further step towards point-of-care diagnostics, where test are carried out at the bedside in hospitals or in the physician's office instead of sending samples to a central laboratory.

The EWOD-BioPro system will be presented at COMPAMED, in Düsseldorf, 12 – 15 November 2018, hall 8a, booth P13.

teliFIT – Intelligent platform for telemedicine and telecoaching

The teliFIT platform features a modular, expandable architecture. It can accommodate a multitude of user groups with their specific access rights and can easily be tailored to a wide range of design requirements, contents and functions. The platform's current functionalities may be grouped in five categories: Communication, Monitoring, Analysis, Smart Data Services and Safety & Security. Individual functions can be activated or extended as required.

Smart devices can be used to capture and upload data to the teliFIT platform. Processing results are presented in visually attractive charts, but also offer relevant context. For example, teliFIT offers a nutrition diary that automatically evaluates the
calories taken in against the user's individual basic requirement. Actual intake is also evaluated in relation to agreed nutritional goals.

Data security has been a major design criterion for the teliFIT platform. Personal data is routinely encrypted and stored in a separate database. The teliFIT platform is hosted in Germany. Its resilience is checked regularly through external penetration tests. There is a stable code base that includes high quality software and architecture. Due to the use of state-of-the-art software technologies, the platform is easily scalable.

The teliFIT platform will be presented at MEDICA in Düsseldorf, 12 – 15 November 2018 (Fraunhofer-Gemeinschaftsstand, hall 10, booth G05).

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