Oct. 22, 2009

(MIDLAND, MICH.) - Dendritech, Inc. has secured a new grant totaling $150,000 to develop stronger antimicrobial coatings for hard surfaces and fabrics that will better combat the spread of hospital-acquired infections.

The six-month project, entitled “Disinfection of Spore-Forming Bacteria with Advanced Functional Surface Coatings,” was awarded by the National Science Foundation. Work begins Jan. 1, and Dr. Steven Kaganove, lead scientist on the research, thinks it could lead to healthier, safer hospital stays for hundreds of thousands of patients every year.

“Hospital-acquired infections are a persistent problem in the United States, as well as the rest of the world,” Kaganove said. “Five to ten percent of patients admitted to acute care hospitals acquire them; that amounts to two million patients per year and 90,000 deaths per year at an annual estimated cost between $4.5 to $5.7 billion."

Kaganove said Dendritech’s coating will offer broad spectrum activity against microorganisms typically found in a health care setting, including bacteria, bacterial spores, viruses, mold and fungi. Bacterial spores tend to be resistant to many common commercial cleaners and disinfectants, and as a consequence of this, a spore-forming bacteria called Clostridium difficile (or C. diff) has become a serious problem for the health care industry. Dendritech’s research will target C. diff in particular, he said.

“Overall infections caused by C. diff more than doubled between 2000 and 2005, according to the latest government figures,” he said. “In 2005, 301,200 cases of C. difficile-associated disease were logged in discharge records kept by the nation’s hospitals. Some 28,600 people who had the infection died. About three percent of healthy adults carry this bacterium with no problem, but overuse of antibiotics has led to the development of highly resistant strains in recent years, creating a toxic new type that stumps traditional treatment.”

Kaganove said there are many antimicrobial coatings on the market, but they aren’t typically effective against C. diff., and although hospitals successfully treat areas with a C. diff. infection with powerful, bleach-containing cleaners, the surfaces can become re-infected.

“Our coatings would be applied to surfaces people would be most likely to touch or come in contact with in hospitals,” he said. “This would make them inherently antimicrobial, even between the times that they’re routinely cleaned and disinfected by hospital staff. This would help to reduce the spread of hospital-acquired infections like C. diff.

Beyond the local hospital setting, Kaganove said a high infection rate has also been a problem in forward deployed military hospitals used by U.S. Armed Forces, and the coatings under development at Dendritech could have far-reaching potential.

“The Department of Defense is keenly interested in a solution to the hospital infection problem that can be used in the short term,” he said. “ The coatings may have also applications in defense and homeland security as countermeasures for biological warfare agents, such as anthrax spores. In preliminary work in collaboration with Michigan State University, our coatings were able to kill 99% of an anthrax spore mimic.”

Dendritech, Inc. is a privately-held company established in 1992 whose main focus is the manufacture and sale of specialty dendrimers. Its operations include a multi-million dollar manufacturing plant located in Eastwick Industrial Park in Midland, Mich. For more information about Dendritech, call 989.496.1152 or go to