U of U Awarded $1.66M to Research New Way of Reducing Implant Infection

U of U Awarded $1.66M to Research New Way of Reducing Implant Infection

Jun 9, 2009 11:59 AM

The University of Utah has been awarded $1.66 million from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to fund research on a new approach to reducing artificial joint implant infection. According to the study’s principal investigator, Roy Bloebaum, Ph.D., research professor of orthopaedics in the U of U School of Medicine and director of the Bone and Joint Research Laboratory at the VA Salt Lake City Medical Center, the science behind the research has been part of the animal kingdom for millions of years.

Many species, Bloebaum says, have natural proteins in their skin that resist bacteria before it has a chance to infect healthy cells due to an open wound, scratch, or bite. The new chemical entity under investigation, he adds, may have the ability to work like those proteins when utilized with artificial joint implants, therefore reducing the need for traditional antibiotics. The chemical entity is called CSA-13 and it was developed by Paul B. Savage, Ph.D., a professor at Brigham Young University.

“Billions of dollars a year are lost due to infected implants because once an implant is infected, it needs to be removed and likely replaced, and the chance for another infection increases significantly,” Bloebaum says. “But, if you can prevent bacteria from attaching to the implant, you can reduce or prevent the need for replacement surgery and the use of antibiotics, which can improve their general effectiveness and decrease antibiotic resistance.”

According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, 766,100 Americans underwent surgery for hip, knee and shoulder replacements in 2002. In about 1 to 2 percent of cases, the implant gets infected. The most common culprit: Staphylococcus epidermidis, normally found on skin or mucous membrane. Bacteria enters through a surgical wound and multiplies to create a slimy layer, or biofilm, around the implant. The biofilm is nearly impossible to treat and the result is additional surgery to clean or replace the implant. When an implant is replaced, the chance of another infection goes up by as much as 40 percent.

“We believe that our technology has the potential to significantly reduce orthopaedic related infections,” says Steven Porter, chairman and CEO of Ceragenix. “NIH grant applications are subject to intensive review by leading experts in the country and only a small percentage of grants that are submitted ever receive funding. We are very pleased that Dr. Bloebaum’s proposal merited this award.”

Limited testing to date performed at the U of U has shown that CSA-13 coated orthopaedic devices are able to rapidly kill bacteria and prevent the growth of biofilms. It has also demonstrated good biocompatibility. CSA-13 and its related technology has been licensed by Brigham Young University to Ceragenix Pharmaceuticals, Inc. for commercial development. The study is still in the research stage, but it will likely move on to the clinical trial stage in the near future.  

# # #

Media Contacts

Ryann Rasmussen
U of U Health Sciences Public Affairs
Phone: (801) 581-7387
Email: ryann.rasmussen@hsc.utah.edu
Steve Porter
Chairman and CEO , Ceregenix Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
Phone: (720) 946-6440

Visit our News Archive for a complete list of previous News.