In what can be called as a breakthrough in the field of nanotechnology, researchers have been successful in engineering nanoscale biomaterials, using heparin//, an anticoagulant. These blood compatible could
revolutionize medical treatments, including dialysis, a routine form of treatment for renal failure patients.
Furthermore, these medical devices could have numerous diagnostic and therapeutic applications that are
not foreseen at the moment.
The researchers prepared several materials with heparin composites or coatings, including carbon
nanotubes, nanofibers, and membranes with nanosized pores, and then demonstrated the materials' high
compatibility with blood. Heparin is a common therapeutic used to maintain blood flow or prevent clotting
during medical procedures and treatments.
The researchers demonstrated the composite heparin membrane with nanopores could work as an artificial
kidney, or dialyzer, by filtering the blood and maintaining its flow. The presence of this blood-compatible
dialyzer could potentially eliminate the need for systemic administration of heparin to the patient during
kidney dialysis, the researchers say.
The heparin-coated membranes are described in a paper titled ‘Ionic Liquid-Derived Blood Compatible
Membranes for Kidney Dialysis,’ published online Apr. 24 in advance of print in the Journal of Biomedical
‘These heparin composite membranes and fibers and coated carbon nanotubes are an enabling technology,’
says Saravanababu Murugesan, a recent doctoral graduate in chemical and biological engineering at
Rensselaer and lead author of the paper. ‘Our results show these novel materials have great promise in the
development of improved medical devices that are blood compatible.’
The research team is led by Robert Linhardt, the Ann and John H. Broadbent Jr. '59 Senior Constellation
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