Collaborative Research Project May Yield the Answer to Effectively Treating Serious Infections in Medical Patients

A collaborative research project conducted by a Colorado State University veterinarian and two Boulder scientists with Rose Biomedical may lead to new medical technology for reducing the number of serious infections suffered each year by millions of both animal and human patients.

Dr. William Dernell, associate professor at Colorado State University’s Animal Cancer Center and Steve Frank and Ammon Balaster, scientists working with Rose Biomedical in Denver, have the first study underway using a rat model. The project will test the efficacy of a new antimicrobial treatment for serious, established infections that are the result of major surgery or long-term medical treatment.

"The potential for application to human healthcare products to prevent and treat infections is significant," said Ken Weil, president of Rose Biomedical. "We can see human applications that range from indwelling catheters to more effective would treatment."

If successful in the initial study, the technology will be further tested at Colorado State’s Animal Cancer Center to assess how well it works in reducing infections in dogs who have undergone limb spare surgery to remove and replace cancerous bones.

"To prolong their lives, dogs with bone cancer often require the removal of the cancerous bone and use of a replacement rod," said Dr. Dernell. "Unfortunately, about 50 percent of these dogs suffer post-surgical leg infections where systemic antibiotics may have limited effectiveness. In human cancer patients, the rate is between 20 and 25 percent."

Dernell explained that, in these cases, most of the infections are deep in the tissues and are of mixed origin. Additionally, most dogs who have undergone cancer surgery have already been treated with a course of antibiotics while undergoing chemotherapy. "So there is already something of a resistance to some antibiotics," Dernell added.

This new method for treating these hardy, consistent infections involves driving the antibiotics deeper into the affected tissues so that it can attack the bacteria more directly. Other methods have proven less effective because they can’t fully penetrate into damaged tissues where the blood supply has become poor.

Steve Frank, who has spent years perfecting the technology, believes this new method will revolutionize this type of medical treatment.

"Our preliminary testing on the active antimicrobial technology convinces us that there is a high likelihood that we can be successful in both preventing and treating infection, even against antibiotic resistant strains," noted Frank.

The rat study model currently being used in this project simulates a previous study conducted by Dr. Dernell. In that test, antibiotic polymer beads were evaluated as a treatment for resistant infections. That study provided a very rigorous test model for antimicrobials and offers a direct comparison of effectiveness.

Ken Weil said that participants in this study have applied for a grant from the National Institutes of Health to pursue additional pre-clinical studies at Colorado State and, eventually, research on a human application that can improve the quality and reduce the cost of healthcare.

Colorado State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences was founded in 1907 as the Department of Veterinary Science. The College is committed to educating the next generation of biomedical researchers and veterinarians, to achieving the highest standards in its fields of expertise, and to maintaining and advancing its international reputation. The College’s world-class Professional Veterinary Medical Program is ranked second nationally and is an integral part of each department and the Veterinary Teaching Hospital

Rose Biomedical partners with companies, medical professionals, and inventors to develop and commercialize medical products that improve the quality of care while reducing healthcare costs. Over the past 5 years, Rose Biomedical has worked with partners to secure over $14 million in funding, develop and refine products, conduct clinical research, publish academic data, establish patents and intellectual property, and license and commercialize products.