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Testing the waters to fight infections like fish
Date:6/4/2014

WORCESTER, Mass. A novel technology developed at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) to block human infections by taking a lesson from fish has landed a $50,000 grant from the National Science Foundation's Innovation Corps (I-Corps) program.

The WPI team is engineering surfaces with molecules called antimicrobial peptides (AMPs), several of which have been extracted from fish gills where they serve as the first line of defense against waterborne bacteria and other pathogens. I-Corps grants are competitive awards for technologies developed by earlier rounds of NSF funding that may be ready to advance from an academic lab to commercial production.

"Millions of people in the United States are treated each year with catheters, orthopedic implants, and similar invasive medical devices that carry the risk of serious implant-related infections," said Todd Alexander, a doctoral student at WPI and the NSF designated "entrepreneurial lead" for the I-Corps project. "We're trying to help prevent those cases by creating new surfaces for implants and devices that block infections."

As fish filter water through their gills to breathe, the AMPs trap and kill pathogens before they can invade the bloodstream. In earlier work, the WPI team attached fish AMPs to silicon and gold surfaces and found the bound peptides were able to kill 82 percent of E. coli bacteria exposed to them in culture. Those findings were reported in the paper "Creating Antibacterial Surfaces with the Peptide Chrysophsin-1" published in 2012 by the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces.

Since then the team has continued to refine the technology and is now seeking to commercialize a process for coating the surfaces of medical devices with AMPs to prevent bacteria and other pathogens from adhering to those surfaces and ultimately causing an infection.

"We are very pleased the National Science Foundation sees the potential of our work to be
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Contact: Michael Cohen
mcohen@wpi.edu
508-868-4778
Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Source:Eurekalert  

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