Jan. 22, 2024

UCalgary’s research expertise helps company validate new wound-care technology

W21C Research and Innovation Centre generates evidence to show feasibility and impact of NanoSALV’s cutting-edge product
Megan Leslie and Julian Mulia, co-founders of NanoTess, creators of NanoSALV
Megan Leslie and Julian Mulia, co-founders of NanoTess, creators of NanoSALV NanoTess

Chronic wounds can delay recovery, increase pain and heighten the risk for serious infection for people in hospital or other health-care settings. For that reason, a Calgary company has developed an innovative gel technology found to be more effective than current wound dressings in helping to heal chronic wounds. Better healing can improve quality of life, lessen the risk of complications, and decrease an individual's reliance on the health-care system.

The potential impact is significant, with a recent audit showing one in six patients having a pressure injury (just one type of chronic wound), after being admitted to a Calgary hospital.   

NanoTess created NanoSALV Catalytic Advanced Wound Care Treatment Matrix, a gel that uses proprietary nanotechnology. NanoSALV seeks to maximize natural wound healing while providing infection protection against pathogens.

Alberta Health Services' (AHS) Innovation and Business Intelligence (IBI) team, in collaboration with the CAN Health Network, partnered with W21C Research and Innovation Centre to conduct a real-world evaluation of NanoSALV’s implementation feasibility, clinical effectiveness, and impact on patients, their caregivers and health providers.  

“W21C offers companies like NanoSALV, who are bringing new health solutions to market, an opportunity to validate the technology within a real-world environment,” says NanoTess co-founder Julian Mulia.

The evaluation included adults in Calgary and Edmonton suffering from a variety of chronic wounds including pressure injuries, diabetic foot ulcers and venous leg ulcers. Baseline measurements were taken from each participant for four weeks while they were receiving the standard of care wound treatment ordered by their physician. After four weeks, the dressing that had been used was swapped out for NanoSALV, while all other care parameters remained the same. The size of the wound was measured each week and the reduction in the wound area was compared between the control (first four weeks) and the intervention (second four weeks) periods. 

"It is very exciting to study an innovative wound-care product that was designed and produced in Alberta,” says Dr. Chester Ho, MD, professor and division director for Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation at the University of Alberta, and the principal investigator on this project. 

“This will allow us to better understand how it works with our clinicians' workflow, as well as its cost benefits, and most importantly, how it may help our patients with very difficult wounds heal faster."

The project examined a variety of factors, including how effective NanoSALV is compared to the current best-in-class dressings, user satisfaction (from both the participant and care provider perspective), feasibility of implementation and economic impact. Data collection for the study was completed last year and results show there was significant improvement in wound healing with the use of NanoSALV, even with the inclusion of patients with complex wounds and comorbidities.

Overall, wounds in patients recruited into the study decreased by 58 per cent when using NanoSALV, compared to actually increasing one per cent when using traditional standard of care. For patients who had been using NanoSALV longer in the retrospective review portion of the project, 77 per cent of wounds healed completely within eight weeks and 81 per cent healed in 16 weeks. In comparison, only 40 to 50 per cent of wounds treated with current best-in-class dressings would be expected to heal in 16 weeks. 

Further work is underway to explore factors that influence the ability for health-care providers to implement NanoSALV into daily practice. Ultimately, this research will help support the further adoption of NanoSALV in health-care settings and patient-care practices within Alberta.

“This project provides us with more than just confidence in our NanoSALV’s efficacy, but also supports our ability to introduce NanoSALV to Albertans,” says Megan Leslie, NanoTess co-founder. “This evaluation provides context for site-level decision-making, health-system impacts, patient and provider satisfaction, and overlays the human factors narrative of the real impact our technology is having on Canadians.”

W21C: UCalgary’s link from health research to innovation and entrepreneurship

This is one example highlighting how partners like AHS and private companies can work with W21C to foster Alberta-made innovations as they advance toward commercialization and health system adoption. Data from the projects can be used by health system decision-makers to support evidence-informed choices about adopting health innovations. W21C researchers worked with 17 companies in the past year to help generate research evidence related to a health product.

“Such partnerships are critical to ensuring that AHS can harness the power of innovation,” says Patty Wickson, the executive director of innovation, evidence, evaluation and impact for AHS. “And it supports the rigorous evaluation conducted using our evidence framework through the Innovation Pipeline.”

“By working with AHS, W21C can better understand pressing health-care challenges and gain access to a vast network of clinical professionals and frontline health-care providers,” says Dr. Mary Brindle, W21C academic director. “These clinicians help validate and test new technologies and innovations, providing critical feedback and guidance throughout the development process.”

W21C and AHS are supporting the rapid evaluation of potential innovations and integrating those that offer to transform the health-care landscape in Alberta and beyond.

“Having robust, high-quality evidence to inform decision-making is paramount to AHS,” says Wickson. “W21C is able to evaluate clinical- and cost-effectiveness, patient and provider experience, and the implementation feasibility of innovations, so AHS can ensure that value-based innovation adoption decisions can be made rapidly and with confidence.”

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Mary Brindle is W21C medical director and a paediatric surgeon at Alberta Children’s Hospital and professor in the departments of Surgery and Community Health Sciences in the Cumming School of Medicine, University of Calgary. She has acted as co-scientific director of the Surgery Strategic Clinical Network. She is also director of the Safe Surgery Safe Systems Program at Ariadne Labs, TH Chan Harvard School of Public Health and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

Chester Ho is an associate professor in the Department of Clinical Neurosciences at the CSM, and an associate member of the Hotchkiss Brain Institute. He is a professor and division director for Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation at the University of Alberta. He is also the senior medical director for the Neurosciences, Rehabilitation & Vision Strategic Clinical Network for Alberta Health Services (AHS).

W21C is a research and innovation initiative within the O'Brien Institute for Public Health, based in the University of Calgary and the Calgary Zone of AHS. It provides a range of resources and expertise to help innovators advance their ideas and products into the health system. Located in the Cumming School of Medicine (CSM), W21C is focused on improving patient safety, quality of care and health-care delivery.

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