Plastics are an essential part of 21st century life and can be found everywhere you look. They’re even used increasingly within the human body, due to being highly suited to a diverse range of medical applications. Our exhibit shows how doctors and scientists are working together to develop new plastics that may one day help to keep you well.
Plastics can be designed to have a wide variety of useful properties. The plastics used in medicine include flexible rubbers used in catheters and replacement heart valves, hard-wearing plastic surfaces in artificial joints, and transparent contact lenses. Plastics can even be designed to degrade within the body. Degradable plastics can be used to carry, and then gradually release, medicine over long periods, or temporarily knit together a broken bone while it heals. And special plastic coatings on medical devices can prevent bacterial colonisation on surfaces that have traditionally been an easy target for infection.
Presented by: University of Nottingham, TESco Associates, Ellis Developments Ltd.
When one of the four heart valves malfunctions, plastic artificial valves can be life-saving. Credit: University of Nottingham