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New gel coatings may lead to better catheters and condoms

Managing a wide range of diseases necessitates the use of surgical tubing, such as catheters, intravenous lines, and others.However, patients rarely find these devices to be pleasant to use.Now, engineers at MIT have created a gel-like substance that can be coated onto standard rubber or plastic devices to give them a softer, more slippery exterior that can significantly lessen a patient’s discomfort.

The coating can even be customized to detect and treat infection symptoms.The team describes their method for strongly bonding a layer of hydrogel, a squishy, slippery polymer made mostly of water, to common elastomers like latex, rubber, and silicone, in a paper that was published today in the journal Advanced Healthcare Materials.

The resulting “hydrogel laminates” are impermeable to viruses and other small molecules and simultaneously soft, stretchable, and slippery.

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