The Izgu Lab is awarded the National Institutes of Health’s Research Evaluation and Commercialization Hub (REACH) grant through the Rutgers HealthAdvance program. This award, funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, is directed to commercialize promising technologies and will support Professor Enver Cagri Izgu and his team in further developing chemistries to fight against healthcare-associated infections. As part of the proposed in vivo studies, the Izgu Lab will later join forces with Professor Michael Dunn (Co-PI, the director of Orthopedic Research & Education Laboratory, RWJMS) and Barbara Perry (animal research expert at the Orthopedic Research & Education Laboratory, RWJMS). For this application, Dr. Jonathan Kiel (SOLUtion Medical) served as the mentor-in-residence. Dr. Lisa Lyu (Rutgers ORED) and Professor Dunbar Birnie (Rutgers Materials Science and Engineering) also provided insights, which was a key part of its success.
More than 700,000 healthcare-associated infections are reported in the U.S. annually, many with life-threatening consequences. A significant portion of these infections stem from biofilms, which are aggregates of microorganisms that colonize and form protective barriers on surfaces. Mature biofilms are extremely challenging to treat and require high doses of therapeutics, putting patients at risk of systemic toxicity. One of the ongoing research programs in the Izgu Lab is prevention of infections and biofilm formation using robust and adaptable chemical approaches. Preliminary results, which had been used to support the Rutgers HealthAdvance application, have recently been reported in a publication titled “Catecholamine-Copper Redox as a Basis for Site-Specific Single-Step Functionalization of Material Surfaces”. This work, carried out by Dr. Zhaojun Jia (postdoc), Kern Hast (graduate student), and Professor Enver Cagri Izgu, describes an innovative redox mechanism that enables spatially controlled and rapid grafting of materials with molecules of diverse structure and biological activity. Surfaces functionalized using this approach showed significant inhibition of biofilm formation by Staphylococcus aureus, a highly infectious bacterial human pathogen. Parts of this work were supported by the NIH / National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering and New Jersey Health Foundation. Dr. Jia and Professor Izgu are co-inventors of a PCT patent application filed by Rutgers University on the subject of this work.