Biomimetics is a field of technologies based on imitating the functions and properties found in living organisms. The application of the super-water-repellent fine structure of lotus leaves to create waterproof products is a well-known example of biomimetics. The present study examined the surface structure of snail shells, which exhibit oleophobic properties oil repellency and explored the feasibility of recreating this structure on the inner surfaces of conventional biliary stents. Observations of snail shells under an electron microscope show a covering of extremely fine protrusions of around 200 nm in size. When water enters the pores between these fine protrusions, a film of water exhibiting super-nanohydrophilic structure forms on the shell. Because water and oil are immiscible, this film repels oil. We would expect stent occlusion to be less likely with a biliary stent having this structure on its inner surface. Biliary stricture caused by bile duct cancer or bile duct obstruction can lead to icterus and may, in serious cases, induce fatal hepatic failure. A surgical procedure that places indwelling biliary stents inside the biliary tract is sometimes performed to secure a passage for bile flow. However, conventional stents are prone to occlusion due to the accumulation of biliary sludge, resulting in the need for a second surgery to replace the stent. This problem is attributable to the polyethylene used to make the biliary stents; polyethylene is susceptible to the adhesion of cholesterol and fats found in the bile, eventually leading to stent occlusions. This paper reports our efforts to develop biliary stents that feature antifouling properties inspired by biomimetics to address this problem; specifically, the development of oleophobic inner stent surfaces featuring super-nanohydrophilic structures inspired by snail shell surfaces.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Polymers and Plastics
- Organic Chemistry
- Materials Chemistry