Chemo equipment dangerous, say experts
The anti-bacterial silver coating used in chemotherapy catheters actually breaks down the drugs, reducing the efficacy of the treatment, a new study says.
Chemo treatment usually involves the patient receiving medicine through an IV catheter. These catheters, as well as the equipment attached to them, are treated with antibacterial silver coating, preventing bacterial growth and unwanted infections during a treatment. The study found that the chemotherapy drugs’ reaction with silver not only breaks down the drugs, but it also creates hydrogen fluoride, a gas that can be harmful both, to the patients and to the medical equipment.
Researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology’s (NTNU) are now studying what happens when different drugs come in contact with this coating. “Chemo drugs are active substances, so it is not hard to imagine that the medicine could react with the silver,” said Justin Wells, an associate professor of physics at NTNU.
Wells and his students looked at the surface chemistry of one of the most commonly used chemo drugs, and the dialogue between it and the silver coating found in medical equipment. “Reactions between chemo drugs and other substances that the drugs come in contact with have never been studied like this before. It’s always been assumed that the drugs reach the body fully intact,” Wells said.
The researchers found that graphene can be a good substitute for silver as the drugs do not react with it. Graphene has already been suggested as a coating substitute, and it should be possible to create thin layers of graphene designed for this use. “We hope that our work will contribute to making cancer treatment more effective,” Wells said.