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Coating made of carbon increases the biocompatibility of medical implants

Far thinner than a hair, yet an effective barrier against cell toxins: wafer-thin layers of carbon can prevent toxins from medical implants or plastic Petri dishes from reaching the surface.

Scientists from Rheinbreitbach and Kaiserslautern produce so-called “amorphous carbon coatings” with which, for example, vascular supports or culture dishes for stem cells can be “refined”. To test to what extent the coatings meet expectations, they are cooperating with cell biologists from the University of Bonn.

Cardiologists today usually dilate narrowed coronary arteries with a balloon catheter and then support the vein with a metal tube, a stent. In order to “hide” this foreign body from the immune system, the doctors are looking for materials that can be overgrown by cells of the inner vascular wall as quickly as possible. The company NTTF - new technologies in thin films - and the institute for thin film technology in Kaiserslautern produce ultra-thin coatings from carbon with which stents and other medical implants can be "refined". Cell biologists from Bonn then examine how “biocompatible” the coated materials are: How well do skin cells grow on the “refined” stents? And do they develop as they would in the body?

Although only around 35 millionths of a millimeter thick, the coatings made of carbon prevent substances from the coated material from reaching the surface - for example metal ions or plasticizers made from plastics, which are toxic to cells. In addition, they do not react with other substances, are flexible, hard like diamonds and can be vapor-deposited onto any material. Since this is already possible at temperatures below 50 degrees, plastics can also be coated.

The Bonn cell researchers tested various coated and uncoated materials to determine the extent to which human epithelial cells, e.g. cells of the skin, can multiply and develop on them. Coated stents, for example, were evenly overgrown after a short time, while uncoated stents were hardly ever. The low temperature during the production of the coating also makes it possible to seal cell culture vessels made of plastic with thin layers. Cell cultures are very sensitive; Smallest amounts of plasticizers or other substances can interfere with their development and prevent them from dividing and multiplying. So far, cell researchers have used expensive vessels made of special plastic for their experiments. Initial tests show that coated plastic is a cost-effective alternative - human cells grew normally in the culture dishes. The process has now matured to the point where a patent has been applied for.

The scientists will present their results from November 18th to 30th during an exhibition in the Düsseldorf state parliament. Further information:

Contact Person:

Professor Dr. Volker Herzog
Institute for Cell Biology at the University of Bonn
Phone: 0228 / 73-5301
Email: [email protected]

Dr. Udo Grabowy, NTTF
Tel .: 02224/968881
Email: [email protected]

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