Researchers from the department of applied oral sciences at Dalhousie University have developed a biomaterial to be used as an alternative to hysterectomy for women with uterine fibroids. The outpatient procedure, which should be available at the end of 2014, uses biocompatible glass beads to block blood flow to tumours and is expected to significantly improve recovery time, reduce the risks associated with treatment, and lower health care costs.
The newly developed biomaterial called OccluRad is visible on X-rays, so doctors would no longer require contrast dyes for placement monitoring. While the initial target application of OccluRad is the treatment of uterine fibroids, the research team thinks it could be used for most embolization procedures. Dr. Daniel Boyd, lead researcher, assistant professor and member of the Institute for Materials Research at Dalhousie University, explains: “This research is about enhancing the safety and efficacy of embolization by allowing direct visualisation of particles. With OccluRad as a starting point, we will plan to expand beyond the treatment of uterine fibroids and take on the challenge of treating patients with primary liver cancer.”
The research team also focuses on developing a new group of dental materials that could stabilize spine fractures, and on using glass ionomer cements (GICs) to develop painless, injection-free restorations at a lower cost. “We are learning from developing countries. In the West, we tend to use more expensive materials—we are trying to demonstrate that GICs are often better. They work extremely well, don’t have any associated allergic responses and, frequently, don’t require injections,” says Dr. Boyd.
The ground breaking treatment option led to the creation of ABK BioMedical, a company located in Halifax for which Dr. Boyd acts as president and chief scientific officer. ABK BioMedical was the winner of BioNova’s first BioInnovation Challenge in 2011.