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Polymeric biomaterials for wound management and drug delivery.

The low level of Canadian industrial R&D activity in the biomaterials field has long been a distressing reality. This was the case in 1976 when Medipro Sciences was established. The founders included three well known Canadian academic scientists from the University of Toronto - James Guillet, FCIC, Dennis Smith and Walter Zingg. Dr. Zingg is the past Director of the Institute of Biomedical Engineering of the University of Toronto and the past Chief of Surgical Research of The Research Institute of the Hospital for Sick Children/Medipro Sciences and past president of the Canadian Biomaterials Society.

The original concept of the founders was to use their collective expertise in polymers, biomaterials and surgery to develop advanced polymeric biomaterials for wound management and drug delivery. The initial focus was on the development of an advanced dressing for the management of major burn injuries.

This was originally a joint University of Toronto/Hospital for Sick Children program funded by Canada's Department of National Defence, which recognized the need for superior burn coverings for field and hospital use. The work led to a patented family of would management biomaterials whose laboratory designation is "MED-300". The flagship of the MED-300 family is a transparent film called MED-304FP, which has undergone a number of successful pre-clinical trials on debrided burn injuries and donor sites at centres in Canada and abroad.

Concurrent work at Medipro produced a second and completely different family of patented wound management biomaterials designated "MED-1000". Although the MED-300 and MED-1000 materials are based on different polymers and different technologies, they share a number of important properties including transparency, high water vapour transmission, and adhesion to the wound surface.

Bonding to the surface occurs quickly on application and does not depend on cellular ingrowth. Adhesion to the wound seals out microorganisms and foreign materials and is maintained while wound healing occurs beneath. The adhesion of the MED-304FP film is actually reversible. When the adherent film is immersed in physiological saline for 10-15 minutes, the bond to tissue is weakened and the film can be removed from the wound without trauma.

Despite their potential, commercialization of these technologies proved difficult because of lack of capital and experience. This situation changed rapidly after Murray Watson joined the company as President. He brought to Medipro a combination of senior management experience in the health care field (American Hospital Supply; Picker International) and extensive experience in raising venture capital. Private capital infusions from Canadian sources took place in 1989 and 1990, and a third round of financing was obtained in 1991. The company moved to new facilities in the northeastern part of Metro Toronto in July, and has expanded its staff to 14.

The current policy for commercialization of Medipro's technologies is to enter into strategic alliances with major pharmaceutical and health care companies which have sales and marketing organizations serving the specific market area in which a Medipro product falls. Medipro has entered into several agreements, and discussions are in progress with other companies.

Medipro is very actively working on a number of drug delivery systems. One group of systems is derived from application of the MED-300 and MED-1000 wound management technologies. The other group is comprised of three proprietary polymer systems for photoactivated command release of drugs within the body. One of the photoactivated systems involves chemical bonding of the drug; the other two involve physical entrapment. All three can be used with a wide variety of drugs.

These systems protect the body from the therapeutic agent and vice versa until the clinician releases a dose by internal or external application of light of the appropriate wavelength. The dose can be controlled by the intensity and duration of the irradiation.

Medipro Sciences, as a founding member of the Ontario Centre for Materials Research, has benefited considerably from work with academic members in the past, and looks forward to continued collaboration in the future.
COPYRIGHT 1992 Chemical Institute of Canada
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Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Canadian Chemical News
Date:Feb 1, 1992
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