Associate Professor Rajesh Katare has been granted funding to research the development of a novel, multi-use, off-the-shelf, biodegradable ulcer patch as an advanced wound-care product.
Based in the School of Biomedical Sciences, he is the first person in the Department of Physiology to receive funding through the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) Endeavour Fund's Smart Ideas programme and is thrilled with this success.
“I am elated to be the first person in the Department to have received this. It is a very exciting step forward and I am glad the Ministry can see the multi-faceted value of the work we are doing here.”
The funding will go into researching a patch to treat life-threatening ischemic ulcers.
Associate Professor Katare will work with a team of experts in nanomedicine and bioengineering techniques, to combine synthetic molecular regulators that accelerate wound healing.
He says an estimated one to two per cent of developing countries' populations will suffer from a chronic wound in their lifetime.
“The incidence of non-healing wounds is also expected to increase as our population ages as well as for those with comorbidities, such as diabetes and hypertension.”
“In Aotearoa, there is a disproportionate increase in the rate of chronic non-healing ulcers in the Māori population, especially in those with diabetes. Current treatments fail to prevent amputation in more than 58 per cent of diabetic patients developing foot ulcers.”
The research team will work with both New Zealand and international collaborators to develop the patch and assess its clinical use in key markets.
Associate Professor Katare says the successful development of a patch will also lead to new economic opportunities with local wound care product developers, such as ManukaMed NZ, who have agreed to support the product.
The research process will also provide evidence about how developing nanoparticles might aid in regenerating blood vessels in patients with peripheral vascular disease, holding out the promise of attracting commercial partners who specialise in regeneration therapy.
With only 71 of the 443 applications for MBIE funding approved, the grant is not only a significant achievement for Associate Professor Katare, but also for the entire Department of Physiology.
- Kōrero by the School of Biomedical Sciences Communications Adviser, Kelsey Schutte.