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SEMPRUS BioSciences Awarded $1 Million US Army Grant to Develop "Anti-Biofilm Trauma Devices" for American Soldiers in Battle

10/19/2011 11:23:49 AM

CAMBRIDGE, MA – (October 19, 2011) – Semprus BioSciences today announced it has received a $1 million grant from the U.S. Army Telemedicine & Advanced Technology Research Center (TATRC) to develop the world’s first orthopedic devices designed to reduce biofilm formation, the foundation for most bacterial complications associated with medical device implants. Semprus presented its initial findings in a poster session at the recent Advanced Technology Applications for Combat Casualty Care (ATACCC) military trauma conference in Fort Lauderdale, FL.

Semprus BioSciences is a venture-funded biomedical company whose proprietary rationally designed Semprus™ Technology organizes, manages and harnesses water molecules on a medical device surface. This system creates a highly non-fouling performance that significantly reduces attachment of proteins, cells, bacteria and other biological matter. The company’s products are designed to reduce the 56,000 preventable annual U.S. deaths and $11.2 billion cost of infection and thrombus-related complications1 that often arise when medical devices are implanted in the body.

Gunshot wounds, blast injuries and landmine explosions cause the majority of battlefield wounds to American soldiers. Between 60%-70% of soldiers who are wounded suffer from orthopedic injuries, which lead to significant morbidity and failure to return to duty. If a bone fracture becomes infected, the patient requires a prolonged course of treatment that can require multiple surgical procedures, long-term antibiotic care and even amputation. Each year, orthopedic device infections cost the U.S. nearly $2 billion and 11,000 deaths2.

Joseph Wenke, Ph.D., a principal expert on improving outcomes for open fractures at the U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research (USAISR), is leading this collaborative effort. “I look forward to working with Semprus to help resolve a critical issue affecting our Wounded Warriors,” said Dr. Wenke. “We are hopeful that our collaboration with Semprus will yield new orthopedic products that will greatly reduce complications associated with these injuries, and the costs to treat them.”

Semprus BioSciences Chief Technology Officer Christopher Loose, Ph.D., is coordinating the research and development to bring this novel technology to the clinic on intramedullary nails. According to Dr. Loose, Semprus™ Technology has the potential to improve clinical outcomes for soldiers who suffer from extremity trauma.

“Our goal is to dramatically reduce complication rates in orthopedic devices implanted in our men and women in the Armed Forces,” he said. “We expect our technology to reduce wound complications, amputation and mortality in soldiers with orthopedic injuries.”

Dr. Loose added that the benefits of the technology in development will be particularly relevant to military personnel, including:

• Long-term antimicrobial activity for the multiple months required for fracture healing, as opposed to “slow release” technologies that utilize a drug reservoir with a limited inherent lifespan (1-2 weeks).

• Broad spectrum activity against all of the pathogens commonly found on the battlefield, including A. baumannii.

• Minimal Drug Resistance because these chemistries use non-specific mechanisms to reduce biofilm formation.

“With widespread use across the military in different combat environments, fracture fixation devices are undoubtedly a permanent aspect of battlefield care,” said Semprus BioSciences Chief Executive Officer David L. Lucchino, “and the reduction of associated infections is critical to streamline the treatment process and minimize recovery time.” Lucchino said the Semprus™ Technology can also be applied to other orthopedic devices, including external fixation systems, screws and plates.

The scope of the work performed in this collaborative effort will focus on adapting Semprus™ Technology to orthopedic substrates, including titanium.

1, 2 Journal of Wound Care, February 2010 (Wilcott et al.), Chronic Wounds and the Medical Biofilm Paradigm.

About Semprus BioSciences:

Semprus BioSciences is a venture-backed biomedical company headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The company’s innovative, proprietary Semprus™ Technology signifies a breakthrough in medical device technology with its highly non-fouling surface using covalently bonded polymers that coordinate water over the device surface to give extended durability. In December 2010, the company completed an $18 million Series B financing co-led by SR One, the corporate venture capital arm of GlaxoSmithKline, and Foundation Medical Partners (FMP), a national healthcare venture capital investment firm with a strategic relationship with Cleveland Clinic. Combined with previous financing rounds, Semprus has raised a total of $28.5 million in equity.

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Contact: Michael Devine

617.577.7755 ext. 202

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