Coating scaffolds in silver ion solution can slow MRSA while creating bone

An international team of researchers discovered that silver ion-coated scaffolds — biomaterials that are created to hold stem cells — can slow and even prevent, in some cases, the spread of Methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus while also regenerating new bone.

The researchers, led by Elizabeth Loboa, PhD, Columbia-based University of Missouri College of Engineering's dean and a bioengineering professor, coated the threads of a bone-forming scaffold with a silver ion-containing solution before testing.

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They found that seeding the right amount of silver into a biodegradable scaffold alongside bone-generating stem cells inhibits the growth of or kills MRSA while still forming bone.

"The silver ions go in and completely disrupt the MRSA cell machinery, and they can inhibit growth and kill the bacteria," Dr. Loboa said. "It's a fine line. If you overuse too much of the silver, it's bad for the mammalian cells. We want to make sure we don't hurt our host cells but kill the bacterial cells."

Tissue Engineering, Part A recently published the research team's findings.

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