Getting the needle

The Christmas tree is the focus of many a household in December but come January 6, it's time for baubles and tinsel to be packed away and the needle-ridden evergreen to be given the chop. However, chemists in India have demonstrated that an extract of Pseudotsuga menziesii, commonly known as the Douglas fir, can be used to help make shape silver nanoparticles for use in the sterilization of medical devices, prosthetics and implants. Poushpi Dwivedi of MNNIT in Allahabad, India, and colleagues explain that one of the most troubling problems in biomedicine is bacterial infection at the site of implantation. Silver is well known as a bactericidal agent, in nanoparticle form has several advantages and with the P meziesii extract can be used to provide a protective and biocompatible coat to a range of materials used in medicine.