Affecting nearly 100,000 U.S. patients per year, infections in medical implants are a high-risk and costly problem. David Stoltz, MD, PhD, professor in Pulmonary, Critical Care, and Occupational Medicine, and a team of multidisciplinary researchers received a $150,000 pilot grant from the Research Development Office within the University of Iowa Office of the Vice President of Research. As a part of the “Jumpstarting Tomorrow Seed Grant Program,” the team will use the funding, which comes from the University of Iowa utility public-private partnership, to test a new strategy to treat infection in implants.
Combining expertise from the Carver College of Medicine and the College of Engineering, the team plans to test a novel strategy known as In Situ Thermal Sterilization. Instead of surgically removing the implant and surrounding tissue, the new method heats the implant surface while in vivo to kill the biofilm. The team will examine how the presence of multiple species affects a biofilm’s thermal susceptibility and how thermal shock affects the biofilm’s heterogeneity.
“We have been talking and working on this for a while, but this funding mechanism really gave it legs,” Stoltz said. “My lab will be helping with the in vivo infection model work.”
The team will also test the thermal sterilization on an in vitro model and compare the results between in vitro and in vivo and evaluate tissue damage of thermal shock on human bone.
Eric Nuxoll, PhD, associate professor of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering, is the project’s principal investigator. Stotlz; Jacob Elkins, MD, PhD, associate professor of Orthopedics and Rehabilitation; and Dominique Limoli, PhD, assistant professor of Microbiology and Immunology, are all co-PIs on the project.