Gonzaga University chemistry Assistant Professor Stephen Warren has received a $24,000 grant from the Washington Technology Center, for contributing to development of a new generation of chronic wound dressings, through collaboration with the Spokane high-tech firm Aegis Biosciences.
Gonzaga’s Inland Northwest Natural Resources Research Center (INNRRC) helped create this partnership. The WTC grant includes a match from Aegis, which is based at the Spokane Intercollegiate Research and Technology Institute (SIRTI). The grant funds include two student internships.
Aegis is developing tiny beads or microspheres of a polymer that simultaneously can control moisture and deliver drug molecules to chronic or slow-healing wounds.
“New tissue can’t grow in a dry environment and too much moisture can also be detrimental,” Warren said. “So controlling the moisture is important. Wounds need to be protected from infection and topical delivery of antibiotics is a good way of doing that in addition to the barrier of the dressing. Ideally you want to also stimulate tissue growth or regrowth to heal the wound, and you want to stop tissue breakdown.”
Warren’s role will be to fabricate and impregnate the beads with various drugs, and then study how the drugs are released from the beads. This technology has the potential to be tailored to specific wound types by mixing various beads with drugs that are designed to treat particular wounds into a dressing.
Conservative estimates suggest that more than 2 million people a year in the United States alone suffer from tissue ulcers, which include slow-healing sores in diabetic patients, burns and bed sores. A typical complication of such wounds is the “weeping” of excessive moisture. The cost to treat such patients can range into many thousands of dollars per patient.
Actor Christopher Reeve died of complications from the infection of a slow-healing wound.
WTC is a statewide economic development agency focused on technology and innovation. WTC channels state, federal and private resources to help companies develop and commercialize new products and technologies. The bulk of WTC’s grant-making is channeled through public universities in the Evergreen State. This is the first WTC grant awarded to Gonzaga since 1994.
For more information, contact Gonzaga chemistry Assistant Professor Stephen Warren at (509) 323-6601, or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.