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Antimicrobial polymers earn NSF grant

A line of antimicrobial polymers for device and material applications has received a $150,000 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to support the development of antimicrobial sutures. The PolyCides line of polymers from PolyMedix Inc. (Radnor, PA) has one grade in particular that shows promise for development as an active agent in antimicrobial sutures.

(Radnor, PA) has one grade in particular that shows promise for development as an active agent in antimicrobial sutures. The NSF grant, which is the company's twelfth grant or research contract, commences on July 1, 2010 and supports six months of research.

The researchers are working toward a material that provides broad antimicrobial activity against pathogens associated with surgical site infections (SSI). PolyMedix believes its materials are less likely to develop resistance because of what it calls the unique mechanism of action of the PolyCide polymer materials. According to the company, SSIs are the third most common hospital-acquired infection, with more than 60% of SSIs arising in the area of the incision, making the use of sutures coated with an antibacterial agent a potentially effective way to reduce infection rates.

PolyCide polymers are synthetic mimetics of the host-defense proteins, which the company points out are one of the oldest and most effective antimicrobial defense systems found in humans. The aforementioned novel mechanism of action serves to directly disrupt the bacterial cell membranes. PolyMedix believes this action makes development of bacterial resistance unlikely to occur. The PolyCide polymers, including those to be studied under this grant, have distinct chemical structures that differ from those agents that may be studied for human therapeutic applications.

If successful, PolyMedix says it hope to apply this technology to other wound-closure applications and expand the antimicrobial polymer technology to improve infection control with medical devices and surfaces, potentially including catheters and implants, where infections may occur and force the removal of the device. [email protected]

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