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01/31/2007 - Clinical Trials Near For Aegis Biosciences

From the decorated plastic strips that cover little children’s “owies” to the dressings for more catastrophic injuries and surgical wounds, disposable bandages and wound treatments are a $10 billion market. Aegis Biosciences is in research and development to enter that market with a new and improved wound dressing. Their dressing is based on a patented “class of simple and versatile hydrogels that have a wide array of useful characteristics, including excellent ion conduction, ion-exchange capability, biocompatibility, and controlled release characteristics.” Research has shown that the healing of wounds is facilitated by keeping the area moist and clean. Moist means that the dressing keeps the wound moist, not that the dressing is moist. Aegis’s polymer is strong and capable of absorbing both water and other materials such as antiseptics and medications for delivery to the wound. According to Dave Vachon, PhD, Aegis CTO, “if we could heal patients 10% faster than with traditional dressings, it would be a terrific accomplishment. That’s what we hope for.”

Aegis emphasis for their wound dressing is on chronic wounds. These are wounds resulting from advanced diabetes, venous ulcers (leg sores), and pressure ulcers. Diabetes has become an epidemic, and wounds occurring as a direct result of diabetes are difficult to heal. Bed sores -- ulcers resulting from pressure – are also hard to treat. There are a variety of hydrogel wound dressings on the market, but their chemical composition is different (from the Aegis materials) and they have limited capability for delivering antibiotics and other therapeutic substances. One interesting and unique characteristic of the Aegis hydrogel is that blood components won’t stick to the polymer.

Aegis Biosciences is a Sirti accelerator tenant, and they use both office space and wet lab space at Sirti. Research on the wound dressing has been progressing for the last two years. The research has been funded by both Federal SBIR grants through the National Institute of Health and from the Washington Technology Center. Basic research on the first wound dressing is nearly complete and ready for clinical trials. The first part of the clinical trial will be to determine toxicity – to learn if there is any intolerance, sensitivity, redness, or rash as a result of the dressing. The second part of the study will be to determine whether the dressing performs as expected – to see if it lives up to its potential. The clinical trials will use people with diabetic wounds. After the trials are completed, Aegis can move into manufacturing and sales.

Aegis Biosciences was founded in 1996 by Timothy Tangredi, an entrepreneur, and Gary Wnek, an academician. Dave Vachon met the two when Tangredi brought a new polymer to Vachon’s lab for testing related to cardiovascular medicine applications. When Vachon’s employment ended with his last employer following an acquisition, and the advanced research group he was running dissolved in 2002, Vachon became a partner in Aegis Biosciences. The company moved into Sirti two years ago. Aegis has two patents and more patents pending.

Although some of their research is carried out at Sirti, Aegis contracts out much of their research. “The company is very virtual,” says Vachon. They have developed many collaborators for researcher and development. “However,” says Vachon, “that business model will change after the clinical trials and we can move into production.”

To learn more about Aegis and their polymer, visit www.aegisbiosciences.com.

Billie Moreland
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