Antibiotic microsphere beads are small, time release antibiotic beads that proceed to release antibiotics over a period of time once implanted or inserted inside the body to fight infection when it is most needed. Terry Clyburn, M.D, at Houston Methodist ?rth?pedics and Sports Medicine developed these tiny antibiotic beads, which are as small as grains of salt, to aid in combating infections. He has been working for over 15 years to perfect these microspheres.

There is a risk of infection involved post any surgery. However, if there are post-surgery infections after joint replacement surgeries, these are harder to treat as the implants are not linked to the body’s blood flow. Hence, the medication sent to fight the infection cannot reach and target the bacteria in the implant. Therefore, usually the patients undergoing joint replacement are placed on intravenous antibiotics prior to and after the surgery to reduce the incidence of infection. Antibiotic microsphere beads can be coated on to the implant itself prior to placing it in the patients joint owing to which the antibiotics are delivered straight to the surgical site, which aids in preventing an infection from developing. Once implanted at the site, the antibiotic microsphere beads are devised to release antibiotics at a level that is high enough to treat infections for at least the next three to six weeks. This is a time frame when infections are most likely to erupt.

There is another medication that is classified as time release medication, which in most cases releases the drug once the outer protective covering is dissolved inside the body. However, these antibiotic microspheres are truly extended time release, as these have multiple layers that dissolve over time and deliver medication over the implant and its surrounding tissues. Over a span of six weeks, the microspheres dissolve completely ensuring that the patient fights off infections, leaving no residue behind that could be harmful to the patient. In order to test efficacy of these antibiotic microspheres, experiments were conducted where metal implants were knowingly infected with bacteria, and then coated in microspheres and inserted inside animal models. There was no sign of infection in the implant coated with the antibiotic microspheres. According to a study, around 10,000 in over 1 million people who undergo total joint replacements annually will develop infections. Antibiotic microsphere beads can play a vital role in reducing the number of infections, by slowly releasing the antibiotic over several weeks to starve off infections. Infections that are caused post-surgery can manifest immediately post-surgery or sometimes weeks or years after the surgery. When the infection spreads and surpasses the superficial tissues and gains access deep into the replacement joint, it mostly requires a surgical intervention. The use of antibiotic microspheres will eliminate that.

Mr. Clyburn has produced the microspheres in collaboration with Catherine Ambrose, Ph.D., from UTHealth and Rice University's Antonios Mikos, Ph.D. Mr. Clyburn is seeking FDA approval of the antibiotic microspheres and estimates that the microspheres will be in use in around next three to eight years. Once these receive FDA approval, antibiotic microsphere beads are expected to considerably eliminate the chances of post joint replacement surgery infections, thereby saving the patient from possible complications and trauma.

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