Imbed Biosciences: A silver lining for wound dressings

By Kelly Kramer

For patients with hard-to-heal wounds such as diabetic ulcers, pressure sores and burn wounds, the threat of contracting a microbial infection is very real. With these infections affecting more than 8 million Americans at a total estimated cost of $25 billion per year, the development of a safe, effective treatment is essential.

Imbed Biosciences, a Madison-based medical devices company, has set out to do just that. With its release of Microlyte Ag, clinicians are now able to prevent microbial infections at the very onset of wound treatment.

After nearly three years of product development based on extensive research and patent pending technologies, Imbed Biosciences has released Microlyte Ag. This microfilm dressing contains stabilized silver nanoparticles (hence the ‘Ag’ part of the name) capable of killing countless strains of bacteria, even those that have become resistant to antibiotics. Microlyte Ag’s ultra-thin dressing conforms and adheres to the micro-contours of a wound and releases antimicrobial silver for up to seven days.

Using the slogan, “Why wait for wounds to get infected? Use Microlyte Ag from Day One,” Imbed Biosciences stresses the proactive nature of its product. Competitor wound dressings release antimicrobials at such a high level that the overall threat of silver toxicity is too great to allow the patient exposure for extended periods of time.

Due to these high levels of silver, the dressing can only be applied to the wound after it is already infected, causing great discomfort for the patient. Unlike competitor’s treatments, which expose patients to toxic levels of antimicrobials causing tissue staining and irritation, Microlyte Ag contains 100 times less silver with the same effectiveness.

With small amounts of silver nanoparticles, Microlyte Ag can be applied to a wound before it even becomes infected, eliminating fears of toxicity. In addition to the low levels of silver, Microlyte Ag dressings disintegrate in wounds, making the experience more comfortable for the patient.

Imbed Biosciences has been developing antimicrobial and bioactive nano-coatings for advanced wound care dressings and medical devices since its founding in 2010. This company combines the skills of chemical and biological engineers, and veterinary and medical surgeons at the UW-Madison.

Its CEO, co-founder and president, Ankit Agarwal, is leading the commercialization of the firm’s platform technologies, which he helped to create during his postdoctoral research with the UW-Madison’s chemical and biological engineering departments. Much of the science behind Imbed’s product stems from Agarwal’s 10 years of work developing advanced biomaterials for medical devices and tissue engineering.

With a need for safe yet effective dressings for hard-to-heal wounds, Imbed Biosciences is continuing its work surrounding Microlyte Ag and other nanotechnology applications that could affect medical treatments or devices.

— Kramer is a student in the UW-Madison Department of Life Sciences Communication.