Chemo equip­ment dan­ger­ous, say ex­perts

Hindustan Times (Patna) - Live - - Variety - IANS

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.

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