Primordial life-giving goo inspires new medical implant technology

Scientists at Australia’s peak government science agency, the CSIRO, have developed an innovative new coating that could be used to improve medical devices and implants. It was inspired by the life-giving goo that is thought to be have been the origins of all life.

The CSIRO’s blog explains:

The incredibly ancient group of molecules that make up the goo – known as prebiotic compounds – have been studied intensively since their discovery several decades ago. For the first time, Australian researchers have uncovered a way to use these molecules to assist with medical treatments.

The polymer coating could protect against infection and rejection for a range of medical implants such as bone replacements, catheters and pacemakers, according to lead researcher Dr Richard Evans.

“The non-toxic coating is adhesive and will coat almost any material making its potential biomedical applications really broad,” Richard said.

Prebiotic chemistry, or chemical evolution, is the study of the chemistry required for producing the key molecules that eventually led to the origin of life. It had its origins with American chemist Stanley Miller whose famous spark experiment using methane, hydrogen and ammonia that produced complex organic compounds such as amino acids. 

The CSIRO team’s work has been published in the journal Nature where the authors explain its significance.

The focus of prebiotic chemistry has always been on understanding the chemical origin of life and thus has remained highly fundamental research. The application of prebiotic chemistry and specifically prebiotic polymers to material science has not been reported.

Bill Condie

Bill Condie

Bill Condie is a science journalist based in Adelaide, Australia.

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