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NC ‘SuperScieNCe’ Sectors Include Advanced Wound Healing, Surgical Devices, Regenerative Medicine

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By Barry Teater, NCBiotech Writer

Companies and university researchers across North Carolina are harnessing compounds, microorganisms and unique materials to bring advanced wound healing, surgical devices and regenerative medicine to civilian and military markets.

And a study of the state’s life science landscape lists this phenomenon as one of six emerging life science technology sectors likely to flourish into the future. The Battelle Technology Partnership Practice identified the sectors based on its analysis of innovation, research and industry activity among the state’s universities and companies. The North Carolina Biotechnology Center has labeled the six “SuperScieNCe.”

Here are some examples of companies that are already growing the sector:

  • Viamet Pharmaceuticals of Durham is developing novel antifungal agents that promise greater selectivity, fewer side effects and better potency than currently available antifungal agents. Viamet won a $1.95 million grant from the Department of Defense in 2015 to develop a topical antifungal agent for preventing and treating mold infections in soldiers with battlefield wounds.
  • MxBiodevices of Greenville is commercializing a patented, injectable bioscaffold, called Dermagrid, to accelerate the healing of chronic dermal wounds including diabetic foot ulcers, decubitus ulcers (bed sores), venous stasis ulcers of the lower leg and surgical adhesions.  
  • Entegrion of Research Triangle Park is developing patented technologies to overcome limitations in storage, safety and availability of blood-derived products. Most recently the company received $9.7 million from the Department of Defense to further develop three technologies:  a resuscitation fluid that could be a safer and readily available alternative to blood transfusion; Resusix, a human plasma that could substitute for fresh frozen plasma in certain situations; and Stasix, a freeze-dried battlefield replacement for blood platelets.
  • Beeken Biomedical of Raleigh, a medical device company focused on wound-care products, licensed technology from Entegrion and has developed it into a range of hemostatic dressings called Nustat. The dressings contain a blend of cellulose and silica-based hemostatic fibers that quickly control severe bleeding more effectively than gauze.
  • Chesson Laboratory Associates of Durham develops innovative polymer-based medical products. Its liquid bandage technology was licensed to Beeken Biomedical and is now marketed as Nuvaderm. Liquid Bandage. When sprayed or swabbed onto a wound, Nuvaderm kills a wide range of microbes, including MRSA, on contact and dries to form a thin, flexible film that blocks microbes, dirt and water.  
  • Novan Therapeutics of Durham is focused on advancing innovative dermatology therapies using nitric oxide, a potent molecule with the natural ability to prevent clotting, regulate inflammation, revitalize tissue, kill invading microorganisms and even eradicate cancer cellsThe company's lead product candidates are new treatments for acne vulgaris and external genital warts.
  • KeraNetics of Winston-Salem is focused on creating innovative keratin-based products for therapeutic and regenerative medicine.  The company is developing products for use in burn management, hemostasis, hemorrhage resuscitation, drug delivery, and muscle and bone regeneration. KeraNetics has about $9.7 million in federally funded research projects under way in collaboration with academic researchers at Wake Forest University and other universities.

Wake Forest and Duke universities have internationally renowned efforts in regenerative medicine.

Physicians and scientists at the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine were the first in the world to engineer laboratory-grown organs that were successfully implanted into humans. Today, they’re working to engineer more than 30 different replacement tissues and organs and to develop healing cell therapies, while also co-leading an $85 million federal grant to apply regenerative medicine technologies to battlefield injuries. 

At Duke, researchers and physicians working in the Carolinas Cord Blood Bank are transplanting potent umbilical cord blood cells into patients with many types of cancer and blood disorders. They are also investigating whether cord blood cells could be used to repair damaged tissues including those in the heart, brain and pancreas.

At North Carolina State University, researchers are working with Dow Chemical and NCSU-based Leaders in Innovation and Nonwoven Commercialization LLC (LINC) to develop Dow’s antimicrobial, Silvadur ET, into a nanofiber bandage for wound healing.

It’s no longer science fiction. It’s SuperScieNCe. The future of medicine. And it’s already happening in North Carolina.

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