(photo credit: INGIMAGE)
Not many technologies have the potential to affect anything from dental fillings to breast implants, but a new Israeli company called NanoLock thinks its technology can do just that.
The company, which is an outgrowth of research at Hadassah Medical Center and licensed through its tech transfer company Hadassit, is commercializing nanotechnology that has antibacterial properties.
Prof. Ervin Weiss, the head of Tel Aviv University’s School of Dental Medicine and the head of orthodontics at Hadassah Medical Center, started developing the technology 15 years ago as a way of strengthening dental fillings. Most materials used for fillings would wear away with time, and bacteria could make its way in, resulting in plaque buildup. Attempts to use antibiotic material would weaken the filling and often dissolve into the saliva.
Weiss took a different approach.
“We ended up having nanometric particles, a few microns large, that when mixed with filling materials at the level of 1 percent, 1.5%, killed all the bacteria that came into contact,” he said. “So if you put a million bacteria on the material, not one survives.”
Because the material affects biofilms – the bacteria that build up on a surface, as opposed to those that float freely in water – it doesn’t disrupt the balance of the bacteria in the mouth, Weiss said, and the particles don’t leak or dissolve.
Using nanotech could extend the longevity of fillings, which is only 7.5 years on average and even less for fillings that use a white, tooth-colored material.
“The whole idea is to make white, tooth-color material more stable in its interface with the tooth, and they will last much longer,” he said. “So every single filling will last longer.”
Dr. Julia Rothman, the company’s cofounder, said antibacterial nanotechnology could have uses far beyond dentistry, particularly in medical devices.
“The concept that nanoparticles that are antibacterial and antifungal that can be implemented in a great variety of medical devices, and perhaps in food, air pollution – it can be used for a very diverse and great part,” she said.
“It’s too early to say where and when, but it depends if we have reputable partners in integrating the particles.”
For example, they have successfully tested the material in combination with plastics used for medical equipment such as catheters and other tubes that are inserted into patients’ bodies.
They are sterilized before use, but the addition of an antibacterial material could prevent infection once they are exposed.
Another possible market is antibiofilm breast implants, Weiss said.
“Today, there are roughly 1,700,000 breast implants inserted every year, and 15% or so are eventually removed from infection,” he said. “So that’s a potential market.”
Testing the viability of the undeveloped products will require long clinical trials. But Weiss is optimistic given the results of lab trials.
So far, the company has raise NIS 2 million and is starting to seek regulatory approval for two dental products in Europe.