NINT Nurtures Collaborative Venture

Research and industry form a healthy partnership

In 2011, a small local company, specializing in the creation of technologies for preventing and controlling infection, was approached by the National Institute for Nanotechnology (NINT) and got much more than they bargained for.

Exciton Technologies had been submitting samples for testing at our facility for years,” explains Dr. Andrew Myles, NINT Project Lead. “We wanted to explore moving from providing technical services to initiating a collaborative project involving new materials development.”

Over the next two months, representatives from NINT’s Innovation Support Program worked closely with the Exciton team exploring collaborative project opportunities.  The result was a compelling proposal that was jointly submitted and subsequently funded through the Alberta Innovates Technology Futures (AITF) nanoWorks program.

“We secured two years of funding for research and development of a new antimicrobial textile platform,” says Myles.  “It was unexpected and it happened quickly, but we certainly are delighted to be working alongside Exciton Technologies.”

For more than a decade, the Edmonton-based company has been refining its signature silver oxysalts technology exsalt® and exploring how the development of other leading-edge healthcare solutions can impact the prevention and control of disease.

“Our unique silver technology and delivery systems leverage the antimicrobial properties of silver to create innovative, cost effective and safe products that prevent microbial growth and the spread of infections,” explains Lindsay Kalan, Exciton Project Lead. “This patented technology has shown great benefits in terms of healing and wound management.”

The use of sustained silver-release bandages like exsalt® SD7 and T7 Wound Dressings  is on the rise in hospitals and long term care environments.  Health care professionals are turning to these innovative products because they recognize the potential for improved patient outcomes.

“With conventional dressings, the primary purpose was to keep a wound from drying out or becoming more aggravated,” explains Kalan.  “What we’ve managed to do is develop a platform technology that can be applied onto bandages to control bacterial growth which will allow the wound to heal naturally.”

The homegrown technology holds great promise, especially for people with acute and chronic wounds.  “What we know is that these patients are often at a greater risk of infection because their immune systems may be compromised so they typically heal less quickly,” says Kalan.  “Our exsalt® products have antimicrobial properties, meaning they have anti-fungal, and anti-bacterial advantages over other dressings, giving the patient even more protection.”

One year into the partnership and things are going well.  NINT and Exciton Technologies have moved beyond their initial collaboration and are now working on new ventures including even more powerful antimicrobial composites for use in bandages that boost biological functions.

“We are investigating the potential for a suite of health care products that not only kill microbes but stimulate tissue regeneration,” says Myles.  “It is early days but the prospects are indeed exciting.”

What started as a straightforward service agreement has grown into something much more productive.  In the next year, the two partners will begin testing the novel health care technology in commercially viable products.  The future is bright.

“This is just one example of the great things underway at NINT,” says Myles.  “We’ve got world-class researchers, state-of-the-art facilities, and a wealth of business and project management expertise.  We are truly a one stop nanotechnology shop and we are ready to collaborate with our industry partners to develop next generation solutions.”