April 14, 2008 — The University of Virginia Patent Foundation has licensed innovative U.Va. silver nanoparticle technology to U.Va. start-up PluroGen Therapeutics Inc. for use as an enhanced anti-microbial agent to fight infection and promote wound-healing.
Silver has long been known to have anti-bacterial properties in its ionic form. Silver sulfadiazine creams and silver-coated medical dressings, for example, have been used for decades to treat chronic wounds and burns. U.Va.'s Lakshmi S. Nair, Ph.D., and Cato T. Laurencin, M.D., Ph.D., have developed novel methods of forming silver nanoparticles that have the potential to make these and other treatments significantly more successful. The silver nanoparticles can be formed in solutions, such as creams and gels, and integrated into coatings on metallic and polymeric substances, such as medical dressings, tubing or devices.
Due to their miniscule size — each nanoparticle measures fewer than 100 nanometers, or billionths of a meter — and resulting increased surface area per volume, silver nanoparticles have the potential to be more powerful, more effective and less expensive than typical treatments involving silver ions.
"These nanoparticles have unique properties that make them very different from the bulk material," says Nair, an assistant professor in U.Va.'s Department of Orthopaedic Surgery. "Silver nanoparticles are found to be active and very effective anti-bacterial agents; they exhibit enhanced biological activity that recent studies have shown might make silver nanoparticles more effective for wound-healing than currently available remedies."
Together with co-inventor Laurencin, the Lillian T. Pratt Distinguished Professor and chairman of orthopaedic surgery and a professor of biomedical engineering and chemical engineering at U.Va., Nair disclosed her discovery to the U.Va. Patent Foundation in June 2007. The foundation has filed a patent application on the technology and licensed it to PluroGen earlier this year.
"Dr. Nair and Dr. Laurencin have developed an improved technology with far-reaching impact," says Robert S. MacWright, executive director of the U.Va. Patent Foundation. "Silver nanoparticles have great potential to improve wound care and make silver a more cost-effective anti-microbial for many uses. We at the U.Va. Patent Foundation are enthusiastic about our license to PluroGen, a U.Va. start-up company who will work hard to bring this technology to the marketplace."
While this technology has potential applications in a wide variety of fields — among them nanoelectronics, catalysis, biodetection and various areas of biomedical engineering — PluroGen will focus its commercial efforts on the nanoparticles' antimicrobial and wound-healing properties, says company president and CEO Neal G. Koller. "This new technology from U.Va. is leading edge," Koller adds. "It has the potential to revolutionize treatment results and cost effectiveness of controlling infection in burns and chronic wounds."
About the University of Virginia Patent Foundation
The University of Virginia Patent Foundation is a not-for-profit corporation that serves to bring U.Va. technologies to the global marketplace by evaluating, protecting and licensing intellectual property generated in the course of research at U.Va. The Patent Foundation reviews and evaluates over 175 inventions per year and has generated nearly $85 million in licensing revenue since its formation in 1978. For more: www.uvapf.org.
About PluroGen Therapeutics Inc.
PluroGen is a wound-healing company commercializing its patent-protected gel technology platform that provides superior and differentiated physical and bio-impact benefits to wound healing. The technology is configurable to deliver drug and non-drug compounds as protected and advanced therapeutic products for simple and complex wound healing. PluroGen's product pipeline targets improved, protected therapies for the six areas of therapeutic treatment of tissue healing (cleansing, infection, pain, inflammation, tissue salvage, tissue regeneration). PluroGen's management and operational teams, boards and principal investigators are recognized global clinical and commercial leaders in PluroGen's target markets of burn and wound care and in the life sciences industry. For more: www.plurogen.com.