The drive to find solutions to hospital-acquired infections has a new impetus with a technology developed by an Israeli company that is now offered for licence.
Two years ago scientists at Sure International (formerly BioActivity Ltd), based in Rehovot, Israel, made a discovery in the laboratory that could be valuable in combating bacteria contamination in hospitals.
“We can inhibit the growth of bacteria with a method unknown in the materials world,” Dr Uriel Halavee, the cofounder of the company, told ISRAEL21c. “The material is based on the fact that there is an internal equilibrium in every living cell.” In addition, Halavee guarantees that the technology does not release toxic byproducts in the process. “There is no evidence that anything happened there. We are disturbing equilibrium by contact,” he says.
The now patented technology induces systemic changes in live cells (bacteria, fungi and mammalian), which leads to apoptosis (programmed cell death) within milliseconds. The technique reportedly differs considerably from current antibacterial and antibiofilm methods because it is nontoxic, long lasting, affordable and demonstrates high efficacy against a wide spectrum of bacteria and fungi.
It can be employed to coat a range of surfaces, including plastics, and on medical equipment. If coated on catheters, it may be able prevent the many deaths of patients who contract hospital-acquired infections; in the United States (US) alone this is reported to be 90000 each year.
The company has one product ready today for license and negotiations are underway with a number of US companies and other multinationals. In May 2008, the company raised investment of US$5 million from Wanaka Capital Partners, which invests in mid-tech companies, and from C. Mer Industries Ltd, whose core business is telecommunications.
“There are huge opportunities with this product,” says Halavee. In the growing market of antimicrobial materials, applications outside the medical arena include those in the clean technology, cosmetics and food industries. The potential exists to coat the lining of water pipes and food packaging to inhibit and “freeze” the growth of bacteria and other microbes, extending the shelf life of food without cooling up to weeks, he claims. It could be applied to cotton clothing to prevent body odour from clinging to fabrics.
Halavee, a former professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, has a track record in inventing products and taking them to market. Start-ups that Halavee has established and then sold include Opal, a semiconductor company acquired by Applied Materials; the cardiovascular balloon of X-Technologies acquired by Guidant; and Kailight Photonics, an optical communications company, acquired by Optimum.
The buoyancy of the medical device industry rests on the ability of commendable inventors such as Halavee, who keep the industry innovating and changing.
Other innovations by companies based in Israel include the development of a microneedle the width of a human hair to treat spider and varicose veins.Annie Ellerton