U.S. funds breakthrough Norwegian wound healing technology

The connection between a Norwegian company, a top-ranked American Public University, wounded soldiers, and brown seaweed might be hard for the common eye to decipher, but for the Norwegian biopharmaceutical company, AlgiPharma AS, the answer is as clear as a million bucks, or rather make that $1.6 million. The 2010 Fiscal Year US Defense Appropriations Bill allotted the partnership between AlgiPharma AS and Professor Chandan Sen of The Ohio State University (OSU) $1.6 million for “Alginate Oligomers to Treat Infectious Microbial Biofilms.”

AlgiPharma AS is a privately owned biopharmaceutical company based in Norway that develops medicines for the treatment of respiratory and infectious diseases including Cystic Fibrosis, as well as for wound care through the use of alginate – a seaweed extract. Professor Sen of OSU is a leading American scientist in the area of wound healing being cited over 700 times every year in the scientific literature.

In order to pursue this breakthrough technology, American Defense International, Inc. (ADI) has helped establish a strategic partnership between the Comprehensive Wound Center at The Ohio State University and AlgiPharma AS. ADI has a long and successful history in helping Norwegian technology companies successfully navigate and enter the US marketplace and excel in business development. In fact, the total value in recent years of contracts secured by Norwegian companies through ADI’s efforts now exceeds $1.8 billion US dollars.

In treating and healing wounds, antibiotics often fall short; however, AlgiPharma’s collaborative research and development has been able to overcome these short fallings by developing a new solution to wound healing through the use of Alginate oligomers. One reason for the previous difficulty in treating and healing wounds has been the presence of a biofilm on the wound.  Biofilm is a barrier that develops with the wound and surrounds and protects the infectious bacteria that colonize wounds. Alginate oligomers provide the solution to this problem by possessing the ability to break the biofilm barrier. Once the biofilm or barrier is broken, the wound or burn can be treated effectively. Pre-clinical studies addressing the efficacy of Alginate oligomers to break biofilm barriers will be conducted at The Ohio State University under the leadership of principal investigator Professor Sen who leads the Center.

The AlgiPharma-OSU partnership team has been working closely with senior US Army medical officials at Ft. Detrick, MD, the home of the US Army’s Research and Materiel Command, to ensure the US Military will have the benefit of this technology. The US Military will conduct pre-clinical trials to test the use of an alginate oligomer after an injury as part of the standard treatment of burns and wounds to prevent infections from becoming chronic. Those serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as diabetic veterans, often suffer from these types of infections and wounds. Therefore, having such an effective treatment could result in lower healthcare costs as well as prevent amputations.

Dr. Dave Gangemi, former Senior Science Advisor in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Health Affairs) has been extremely impressed with AlgiPharma AS and its breakthrough medical technology for the treatment of Cystic Fibrosis and wound healing. Dr. Gangemi noted that “the science behind AlgiPharma’s technology is impressive and could be game changing for wound care for the US Military and our veterans.”

Although the connection between seaweed and military wound care could seem like a stretch, for AlgiPharma AS, this valuable and unique connection is providing funding for their groundbreaking research, and representing a successful transatlantic cooperation between two great NATO allies, Norway and the United States.

Katherine Hubbell received her BA in International Relations from the University of Southern California and specialized in military and foreign affairs. She currently works at American Defense International, Inc in Washington, D.C.

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