Technological Watch

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Coming Clean: How Parx is pushing the boundaries with antimicrobial technology

2018 has seen some interesting advancements and expertise come out of the medical plastics sector. As always it’s highly enjoyable to look back over the last year and remind myself of the extent of innovation that comes out of the industry on a regular basis, says Lu Rahman.


One of my favourite developments in the antimicrobial field came via Parx Plastics. Headed up by Michael van der Jag, the company is pushing the boundaries with antimicrobial technology. Derived from biomimicry and inspired by nature, its developments may have particular importance in orthopaedic procedures.

The company’s patented biocompatible technology is copied from, or inspired by, nature. The technology creates an intrinsic immune system in plastics that makes the surface resistant to biofilm formation and bacteria growth.

With a focus on infection prevention it is also wise to closely consider the antimicrobial technology to use, says van der Jag. Roughly all of the technologies today rely on a migration principle. They have some active (and often toxic) substance migrating from the surface to act against bacteria. However, these uncontrollable technologies in fact contribute to antibiotic resistance as their functional substances can end up anywhere in the environment of the product creating more places for only the resistant bacteria to survive and proliferate. Taking AMR seriously means you focus on applying the technology only where you want to use its benefits.

“This is really where our technology stands out,” explained Michael van der Jagt, CEO of Parx Plastics. “First of all our technology uses a body’s own element and on top of that our technology knows no migration, the performance is inert and intrinsic to the material surface. That means you have a targeted performance only on the surface where you want it and it does not end up elsewhere.”

Foster also recently introduced Combat antimicrobial masterbatches for blending with medical device polymers. The company says that according to a survey by the Center for Disease Control (CDC), 4% of inpatients in US acute care hospitals contract at least one healthcare associated infection. Device associated infections accounted for one in every four infections. In-dwelling devices, such as central venous catheters, are particularly susceptible to bacteria colonisation which can enter the bloodstream.

Ionic silver is successful at killing bacteria and preventing colonisation. Additives based on this chemistry are commonly melt blended directly into medical polymers for the manufacture on antimicrobial device components. However, evaluation of multiple custom compound formulations can be costly.

“Combat master batches are available in quantities as low as two pounds to minimise costs for initial evaluations,” said Larry Johnson, executive vice president for Foster Corporation. “With let-down percentages of 2-10%, depending on the polymer and applications, these small order quantities allow engineers to test several antimicrobial formulations from a single order quantity.”

Tags Latest Issue Parx Plastics antimicrobial technology Issue 45

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