Plastics News correspondent Roger Renstrom reported these items from the Society for Biomaterials meeting and symposium, held April 22-26 in San Diego.
Focal Inc. introduces sealant for surgery
Starting abroad with its first product, Focal Inc. of Lexington, Mass., has launched a polymer-based hydrogel sealant to eliminate air leaks following lung surgery. Polyethylene glycol and other synthetic components make up 10-20 percent of the sealant; water accounts for 80-90 percent.
``After surgery, leaks can develop in lung tissue along staple or suture lines, requiring chest tubes to vent the air,'' Arthur J. Coury, vice president of research, said in an interview at the biomaterials meeting.
``Now, a surgeon can apply Focal's proprietary liquid formulation and use light in a photo polymerization process to form a solid gel. The elastic, transparent gel adheres to moist or dry tissue.''
Johnson & Johnson's Ethicon Inc. division of Somerville, N.J., began marketing the surgical sealant in Europe in March under its AdvaSeal trademark. Ethicon's distribution agreement excludes North America.
Four medical centers in the United States are conducting clinical trials, and Focal expects by year-end to file a Food and Drug Administration application. Focal retains distribution rights in the United States, Canada and Mexico and in 1999 aims to sell the sealant under its FocalSeal-L brand.
Polyurethane allows gloves to breathe
A new modified polyurethane enables Wilshire Technologies Inc. to make disposable gloves promising one-way breathable comfort for users.
Polymer Technology Group Inc. began the customized project in 1996.
``They came to us with a list of specifications, and we developed the material,'' said Kathleen White, PTG director of quality assurance and regulatory affairs.
Moisture vapors and noncondensable gases pass across the dense, pinhole-free polymer membranes via activated diffusion, but ``nothing like skin oils can get through,'' she said.
Needing to upgrade capacity to pursue the project and other programs, PTG moved in October to a 32,000-square-foot facility in Berkeley, Calif., from a 10,000-square-foot site in Emeryville, Calif. Investment in plant and equipment totaled about $3 million and included a 3,000-square-foot Class 100,000 clean room suitable for medical devices.
A 1,000-gallon reactor doubled PTG's processing capability and positioned the firm to supply marketable quantities of the new polymer, exclusively for Carlsbad, Calif.-based Wilshire. The glove maker acquired glove-dipping equipment from ACC Automation Co. of Akron, Ohio, and is ramping up a Tijuana, Mexico, plant to meet initial market interest.
Protein-fortified TPs designed for labware
Protein Polymer Technologies Inc. of San Diego can coextrude proprietary engineered proteins for tissue culture labware, but finds research scientists prefer using their longtime favorite, surface-modified polystyrene with a zinc-stearate mold-release agent.
``Never before could you put a protein in a plastic upstream of a molding process and have the protein retain biological activity,'' said Steve Judd, a Protein Polymer consultant who characterized the technology as ``a new class of plastics.''
Protein Polymer was established in 1988, had 32 full-time and two part-time employees as of March 24 and leases 21,000 square feet. The firm's application for a patent on protein-enriched thermoplastics is pending.