Developing chemical sensors that can be placed in the bloodstream or under the skin to continuously monitor oxygen, acidity (pH), or glucose levels is a major challenge for analytical chemists and biomedical engineers. The problem is, the body responds to these foreign objects in ways that interfere with their ability to accurately measure blood chemistry. In the bloodstream, clots form on the surface of implanted sensors or blood vessels contract around them. Sensors implanted under the skin may become walled off by cells that flock to the site as part of the inflammatory response.
A University of Michigan team that previously demonstrated improved accuracy with intravascular sensors that were coated with nitric oxide-releasing polymers has promising preliminary results with a new strategy: creating polymer coatings that generate nitric oxide from components already in the blood. U-M chemistry professor Mark Meyerhoff will discuss the work March 15 at the 229th national meeting of the American Chemical Society in San Diego, Calif.
"The idea we had, when we started working on this problem about eight years ago, was to try to mimic what occurs in the human body to prevent clotting on the walls of your own blood vessels," said Meyerhoff. "Your endothelial cells---the cells that line all of your blood vessels---generate nitric oxide. The nitric oxide produced in this layer of cells diffuses back into the blood vessel walls, where it relaxes surrounding muscle cells and increases blood flow. It also diffuses into the lumen of the blood vessel, where it plays another important role: it inhibits platelet function and prevents platelets from sticking to the surface of the blood vessels."
Nancy Ross-Flanigan | EurekAlert!
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