Applied Research is designed to solve practical problems of the modern world. Its goal is to improve the human condition by creating or inventing marketable products. Its scientists identify the commercialization potential as one of their project’s primary goals. The Applied Research Division is operated under the direction of Kaia Kloster, PhD.
Dr. Kloster has been instrumental in developing a photochemical tissue bonding technology for a number of clinical applications. This exciting family of naphthalimide-based photochemicals has demonstrated successful tissue bonding in numerous tissue beds.
Being selected as one of Governor Rounds' 2010 Initiative Research Centers of Excellence provides funding to build research teams to promote the development of this technology for various clinical applications. Our current focus is in the development of ophthalmic adhesives for the repair of corneal incisions (e.g., cataract surgery), corneal transplants, LASIK flap adherence, and repair of ocular trauma.
In collaboration with ophthalmologist Dr. Vance Thompson, preliminary work has verified that these experimental adhesive formulations are very capable of bonding corneal tissue. Dr. Thompson has participated in the FDA approval of a number of novel procedures, including the LASIK procedure, and has presented to the FDA ophthalmic device panel three times. He is very enthusiastic about this cross-linking technology, which could positively impact corneal repair and ocular drug delivery.
The 2010 Initiative will facilitate the building of a supportive team to collaborate with Dr. Thompson to develop this technology for ophthalmology applications. We have recruited a magnet scientist, Dr. Chandraseckher, who would bring knowledge in the field of ophthalmology and experience with associated in vitro and in vivo models. The presence of such an individual will improve chances to obtain significant external funding, lure additional high quality faculty, commercialize the existing technology, and develop new ideas and future entrepreneurial ventures for applied research.
We are currently conducting additional ex vivo bonding trials to optimize ophthalmic adhesive formulations and developing suitable models to test their performance under physiological conditions. As quickly as possible, experimentation will be moved into chronic in vivo trials to test the ultimate adhesive performance of these compounds and assess the biocompatibility and overall inflammatory and immune response.
A number of dermatological applications have been identified, which take advantage of both the adhesive and drug delivery potential of these naphthalimide-based compounds. The medical literature clearly identifies a need for technologies that will expedite the healing of chronic wounds, such as ulcerations that require months of treatment. Current dressings offer varying degrees of absorption and are typically secured to the healthy skin around the wound with traditional adhesives. This cross linking technology offers the potential to adhere a wound healing accelerant directly to the affected surface and elute drug over a sustained period of time.
We are currently working with Rural Technology, Inc., a SD based company, which has a proprietary wound healing ointment that has been demonstrated in an in vivo wound model to reduce healing times by 50% when applied topically. Its use in conjunction with this cross linking technology may allow the ointment to be adhered to the wound surface and provide sustained delivery of the drug, thus reducing the required number of dressings. The literature suggests that as much as 22% of nursing time is spent on wound dressings. Therefore, reducing this figure would translate into significant savings in labor expenses as well as improved patient outcomes and overall welfare.
In addition to wound care, skin care/cosmetic applications have been identified. Preliminary exploratory funding from an industry partner (WavePharma) has been received to investigate a modified sunscreen formulation that would be photochemically cross-linked to the stratum corneum, or outer layers of the skin. A hairless rat model allows testing of initial delivery, penetration, and retention of UV blockers after numerous wash challenges. Given that one-half of all new cancers in the US are skin cancers with approximately 1.3 million cases diagnosed per year, there would be clear advantages of prolonged UV protection capable of withstanding the challenges of sweating, swimming, toweling, and sand abrasion. Development of this cross-linking technology would have broad-reaching implications in the field of dermatology, from the delivery of dermatologicals for pathological skin conditions (e.g., psoriasis) to extended-wear cosmetics.
Collaborative relationships have been established with dermatologist Dr. Dennis Knutson. Serving as a clinical mentor, his experience in the dermatology clinic will provide useful insights into the development and ultimate clinical approval of these compounds for use in the field of dermatology.
The potential uses for these photochemical tissue-bonding compounds extend beyond the realm of vascular biology with nearly limitless tissue applications. Research within the Applied Research Division of the Avera Research Institute is expanding to include research into numerous clinical applications in dermatology, urology, ophthalmology, virology, and orthopedics, among other medical specialties.
In addition to the photochemical technology, we plan to develop and pursue additional areas of applied research as we expand our research team. We feel we have the unique opportunity to make a tremendous impact in medicine with broad-reaching implications.