Chemically modified Polymer for additive manufacturing of construct with antimicrobial properties

The project aims to produce and study an antimicrobial material for the usage of medical devices by chemically modifying high impact polystyrene (HIPS) using the sulfonation method and attaching different antimicrobial agents to it.

A recent study showed that at least 50 % of nosocomial infections are due to medical indwelling devices like surgical guides and prosthetics. This amounts to about 2 million patients affected. The reason for such statistics is the growth of microorganisms on the surfaces of the medical devices, which is known as pathogenesis. To remove microbial lifeforms from the surface, methods like sterilization and disinfection have been utilized. Additive manufacturing was chosen for the method of device production due to the flexibility in design that suits the application. Materials used in additive manufacturing are mostly thermoplastics which are not suitable for sterilization and disinfection. There are many attempts to create antimicrobial materials. However, most materials are unable to hold more than one antimicrobial agent without a secondary process. Hence, the project aims to produce an antimicrobial material that can hold more than one antimicrobial agent without the need for a secondary process. The material will be produced by sulfonating high impact polystyrene (HIPS) and attaching copper and silver ions. The optimum time of sulfonation will be determined by sulfonating HIPS for five time periods and the sulfonation degree and cation exchange capacity of each sample will be determined. The efficacy of the antimicrobial properties of the sulfonated HIPS will be tested using a zone of inhibition assay against the conventional HIPS. The physicochemical, mechanical, and thermal properties of the material will be tested against the conventional HIPS using a tensile test, DSC test, TGA test, and FTIR test. At the end of the project, the antimicrobial properties of the sulfonated HIPS is expected to be better than the conventional HIPS. The physicochemical, mechanical, and thermal properties of the sulfonated HIPS is expected to be similar to the conventional HIPS.

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