Feb 052003
Authors: Bryce Chapman

As Don Moore entered the hospital last November for a commonly-administered heart catheter insertion, he never thought that in the months to follow he would be fighting for his life.

As a result of the procedure, Moore developed the leading cause of infections originating in hospitals: a staph infection.

“I was deathly sick,” said the minister from Longmont. “I spent eight days in the hospital; I couldn’t even get out of bed.”

However, groundbreaking technology that CSU’s Animal Cancer Center is currently testing may prevent future lurid accounts like Moore’s.

William Dernell, associate professor at CSU’s Animal Cancer Center, has begun testing a new type of technology that could prevent serious infections in animal and human medical patients.

Currently these infections can be very frustrating to treat because, many times, the infection is deep in the tissue and current medicine is not able to fully penetrate the infected area, Dernell said.

“This technology actually drives the disinfectant into the tissue,” he said.

Driving the medicine into a deeply infected area is much more likely to clear up the infection.

Dernell is currently testing the technology, which has not been named because of patent restrictions, on rodent models. If these studies prove positive he will begin administering the new tool on dogs that have had limbs replaced by medical rods because of bone cancer.

Sometimes the dogs leave the operating table with serious infections.

“Unfortunately, about 50 percent of these dogs suffer post-surgical leg infections where systemic antibiotics may have limited effectiveness,” Dernell said.

Dernell said approximately half of all infected dogs experience persistent problems such as loose skin tissue, drainage tracts and large defects. Unfortunately, a few of the dogs’ infections become so severe that amputation is the only option to stop the infection, Dernell said.

Dernell is hopeful that with this technology, future dogs that undergo such operations will be able to live healthy lives free of such affliction.

If the treatment proves to be effective in animals, the prospect of treating infections like Moore’s more efficiently and effectively looks promising.

Moore finished the last of his antibiotic Thursday, over two and a half months after the initial signs of an infection.

The innovative treatment shows real possibility in treating a number of human infections, including diabetic ulcers, staph infections and severe soft tissue infections, said Rae Reynolds, director of development at Rose Biomedical Company.

Rose Biomedical, a company that partners with companies and inventors to develop medical products, is jointly working with the CSU Cancer Center on this venture.

“The potential for application to human healthcare products to prevent and treat infections is significant,” said Ken Weil, president of Rose Biomedical.

Researchers are hopeful that this treatment will one day have a substantial impact on the lives of medical patients.

“The ultimate goal of this technology is to see a significant reduction in morbidity and mortality,” Reynolds said.

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