Some experts believe that unlike in the Olympics, silver’s ability to kill bacteria and keep wounds from getting infected is second to none.
Many of the antimicrobial dressings used today have such high concentrations of silver, though, that they can cause irritation and even be toxic to healthy human skin cells. Thus, “clinical guidelines recommend that silver dressings are used for wounds where infection is already established,” rather than for preventing infection at the time treatment begins, according to a 2012 report by the U.K.-based Wounds International.
One company that’s looking to change that is Imbed Biosciences, which is developing an ultra-thin dressing material that it says has much lower levels of silver than conventional dressings. The Fitchburg, WI-based company has raised $600,000 from three investors, according to a regulatory filing that was made public earlier this week. The new funding will likely support Imbed in its effort to commercialize its Microlyte Ag technology—the name refers to silver’s periodic table symbol—which the FDA recently cleared Imbed to sell.
One participant in the debt financing round was WISC Partners, according to an e-mail message from Mike Splinter, one of the venture fund’s general partners. WISC Partners first invested in Imbed in 2014.
Imbed’s nanofilm technology was developed in a laboratory at the University of Wisconsin-Madison managed by Nicholas Abbott, an engineering professor at the school. Abbott is one of six Imbed co-founders listed on the company website. Another is CEO Ankit Agarwal, who worked in Abbott’s lab as a postdoctoral fellow, according to UW-Madison.
Launched in 2010, Imbed has for the past several years taken steps toward receiving regulatory approval and, eventually, commercializing its wound technology. The global market for advanced wound dressings is expected to eclipse $3.5 billion by 2021, according to a report published last year by GlobalData, a research and consulting firm.
Earlier this month, UW-Madison reported that the FDA had cleared Microlyte Ag for over-the-counter and prescription use in humans. Agarwal said that levels of silver in some conventional dressings are 100 times as high as in Imbed’s material. The FDA reviewed tests Imbed sent the regulator showing that Microlyte Ag “kills more than 99.99 percent of bacteria that it contacts,” Agarwal said in the report.
Jonathan McAnulty, another Imbed co-founder and a professor in the surgical sciences department at UW’s veterinary school, said that Microlyte Ag has been demonstrated to heal chronic wounds in cats and dogs effectively. He predicts similar results when it is used on humans, the university said.
According to company materials, Imbed is seeking to develop products that can translate into less pain and lower costs for patients with chronic wounds, as well as other conditions like burns, gastrointestinal defects, hernia meshes, and dural membranes.