ELEVATING HEALTHCARE: THE ROLE OF INNOVATIVE MEDICAL DEVICE COATINGS
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Over the past 50 years, the medical device industry has seen several notable developments, including the incorporation of advanced tools and technologies (such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning) that boost the advances within the digital health sector and accelerate the use of biomedical devices, such as medical implants, surgical instruments and prostheses. In fact, every year, millions of individuals undergo surgeries and implantations, of which, cardioverter defibrillators, prosthetic hips and knees, contact lenses, and cardiac pacemakers are some of the most commonly implanted medical devices. Notably, fixation devices and artificial joints account for about 44% of all medical devices. Despite significant advancements in the design and implantation of medical devices, a number of challenges still persist. Patients, particularly those who are immunocompromised are at high risk of healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) due to the in-dwelling nature of implanted devices and surgical tools. Other limitations include, implant rejection, osseointegration, degradation and wear, and loom over the prosthetic integration. In recent years, the medical device industry has seen a surge in medical device coatings as a method to tackle the aforementioned challenges. Biomedical implant coatings are being used to enhance the biological interaction between the implant and the host, mitigate joint wear, and combine the properties of several materials to enhance device performance as well as reduce the risks associated with invasive medical devices. Medical device coatings also endow properties like lubrication, anti-fouling nature, along with enhanced durability to the surface of the device. The global medical device coating market is estimated to be worth USD 7.7 billion in 2023, growing at compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7.7% during the forecast period, according to Roots Analysis. Driven by the surge in demand for various types of medical devices and the need for a wide array of medical coatings for these devices, the medical device coating market is anticipated to witness a steady growth during the forecast period.
MEDICAL DEVICE COATINGS OVERVIEW
Production of effective, functional and affordable medical devices, coupled with their hygienic and biocompatibility requirements, can be seen as one of the ongoing challenge of medical device developers. In order to mitigate such challenges, developers have initiated the implementation of coating of surface of biomedical devices with various types of biomaterials, such as plastics, titanium, silicone, or apatite. Notably, these coatings can alter the physiochemical properties, and the functionality of the surface, depending on the intended application. It is worth highlighting that to accommodate the multifunctionality of novel medical devices, a broader range of coating materials with incredibly specialized designed features are being prointended applicationes, multiple coatings are needed for the same device, as each of the coating provides unique advantages to the device.
TYPES OF MEDICAL DEVICE COATINGS
Traditionally, biomedical devices were made of different metals. More recently, different coating materials have been used to increase the biocompatibility of the medical equipment. This can be attributed to the fact that each type of coatings provides specific attribute to the medical device. Some of the common types of coatings (based on different applications) include lubricant coating, antimicrobial coatings, and water-repellent polymers-based coatings. Each of the above-mentioned categories have been described below.
- Lubricious Coatings– Medical devices that require more assistance when being placed into biological apertures or into the body, use lubricant coatings. This can be attributed to the fact that such coatings facilitate the interaction of the two separate surfaces by reducing the static and kinetic friction.
- Antimicrobial Coatings– The use of surface coatings that provide antibacterial or antimicrobial properties has increased over the years. In addition to preventing HAIs, antimicrobial coatings also serve as potential stores that can release pharmaceutical products, such as antibiotics, antimicrobial peptides, and silver (in case of exposure to bacterial species, such as Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus).
- Hydrophilic Coatings– Hydrophilic coatings are essential for surgical instruments, such as tubes and guide wires, that operate while constantly surrounded physiological fluids and tissues, and need to have lower friction in order to aid the movements when inserted in the body. The mechanical designing of hydrophilic coatings follow low-friction biological format, that involves the use of polymers grafted onto polymeric materials that aid to bind water and provide hydrophilic surface coatings.
ADVANTAGES OF MEDICAL DEVICE COATINGS
- Biocompatibility: Coatings can make medical devices more biocompatible, reducing the risk of adverse reactions when the device comes into contact with bodily tissues or fluids.
- Improved Lubrication: Coatings can provide a lubricious surface, making it easier to insert and maneuver medical devices within the body, leading to reduced patient discomfort.
- Anti-thrombogenic Properties: Coatings can prevent the formation of blood clots on the surface of devices like stents and catheters, reducing the risk of complications.
- Drug Delivery: Some coatings can be used to deliver drugs or therapeutic agents directly to the target site within the body, improving treatment effectiveness and reducing side effects.
- Enhanced Durability: Coatings can increase the longevity of medical devices by protecting them from wear, corrosion, and degradation caused by exposure to bodily fluids.
CHALLENGES ASSOCIATED WITH MEDICAL DEVICE COATINGS
- Biodegradability: While some applications require biodegradable coatings, ensuring they degrade at the right rate without causing harm can be a challenge.
- Cost: Developing and applying specialized coatings can add to the cost of medical devices, potentially limiting their accessibility to patients.
- Compatibility: Coatings must be compatible with the materials used in the medical device itself. Ensuring that the coating adheres well and does not adversely interact with the device’s core material is important.
Over the last five decades, the medical device industry has witnessed an extensive surge in the use of different types of medical devices. However, in recent years, the risk of using these medical devices (such as HAI’s, infections, cytotoxicity, thrombogenesis, and immune rejection) have surfaced. These challenges have garnered the attention of stakeholders towards appropriate selection of suitable biomaterials and strategies for modifying the medical device surface. Attributing to these, some of the recent developments made by stakeholders in this domain include creating non-fouling / antibacterial surfaces, development of graphene coatings that not only elicit enhanced antimicrobial properties as compared to metal nanoparticles but are also cost efficient. Further, it is worth mentioning that integration of new technologies (such as advanced laser processing, machine learning, and AI) drives the field towards automation, precision and more reproducible coating / surface treatment applications, that can revolutionize the biomedical devices industry. Given the rise in use of medical devices, coupled with the need for specialized coatings and innovative surface treatments, the domain is anticipated to evolve rapidly in the coming years.
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