University of Calgary

Researchers test bandages treated with metal-based antibiotics

UToday HomeMay 2, 2013

Researchers test bandages treated with metal-based antibioticsProfessor Raymond Turner, right, received an NSERC Engage grant, while postdoc researcher Joseph Lemire received a Mitacs‐Accelerate internship. Photo by Riley BrandtResearchers in the biological sciences department in the Faculty of Science are working with a medical wound care manufacturer to test new bandages equipped with antimicrobials in order to better fight chronic infections.

Chronic infections — where bacteria get deep into a wound and stay there for months — can be a big problem for people with severe burn injuries, diabetes, and weakened auto immune conditions. The bacteria stick together and form biofilms in the wound which are more resistant to the body’s immune system and antibiotics. In severe cases, a chronic infection can lead to amputations or death.

Professor Raymond Turner received a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council Engage grant, and postdoctoral researcher Joseph Lemire received a Mitacs‐Accelerate internship, to work with Exciton Technologies Inc., an Edmonton-based company that develops antimicrobial silver technology for wound dressings.

“This company produces bandages with antibiotics and antimicrobials impregnated into the bandage,” says Turner. “They’ve come up with a couple of new formulations of a metals-based antimicrobial and they’d like us to test it to see if it works as well as they think it works.”

Turner’s lab explores the mechanisms by which bacteria is resistant to toxic metals and metalloids, with the aim of developing new antimicrobial agents.

One of the issues about using metal ion-based antimicrobial agents is uncertainty about exactly how they work; this is a continuing interest of the Turner research program.

“This project will evaluate the ability of different silver formulations against other metal antimicrobials to prevent or kill biofilm bacteria and help provide an understanding of silver interaction with biofilm forming bacteria.”

Turner says the ultimate goal is to develop low-cost and effective wound treatment technologies to better help the millions of people who develop chronic infections.  “You have the challenges of severe burn patients, they usually come down with some form of chronic infection, we have the multi-drug resistant bacteria in our hospitals scenario, and you have seniors and other auto-immune compromised people, and diabetics — they all have wounds that get infected easily.”

The researchers will test and validate the silver‐oxysalt based bandages in the lab over the summer and they’re seeking further funding to develop clinical tests with medical partners.


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