An antiseptic hand cream made by Microdermis Corporation, a Carnegie Center-based biotech company, is being used by Army troops to fight Ebola in West Africa.
The antiseptic skin product, Provodiner, is being applied as a final “molecular barrier” to viral exposure for healthcare workers and emergency responders using traditional layers of protective equipment.
The company says that unlike most branded antiseptic products — which cannot be used for eyes, mucosal surfaces (nose and mouth), ears and genitals — Provodiner can be safely used on the most sensitive areas of the body. About 335 aid workers have died in West Africa after being exposed to Ebola.
Microdermis says that testing by the Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Disease has found Provodine kills Ebola virus particles for up to two hours after application, and may do so for up to nine.
Microdermis is focused on military medicine, with many of its board members coming from military backgrounds. It also has a “military council” of former officers in addition to a board of directors. Its CEO, Mac Sweeney, is a former Republican congressman from Texas. In his post-congressional career, Sweeney has worked as a Wall Street lawyer. Chief scientific officer Peter Lentini formerly worked for Purdue Pharma and Estee Lauder.
Microdermis board director Hal M. Hornburg, a retired Air Force general, says he believes a major reason Ebola aid workers have become infected is that the antimicrobial products used so far have not been effective enough.
Microdermis’ decision to have the product tested at USAMRIID is the culmination of four years of product development and clinical studies creating a portfolio of next-generation products that will address the control of the worst infectious disease threats abroad, along with the prevention of U.S hospital-acquired infections that are attributable to the most virulent pathogenic threats such as C. difficile, methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), vancomycin resistant enterococcus (VRE), acinetobacter and other multi-drug resistant organisms that have become increasingly problematic in traditional healthcare settings.
“Given the public health crisis, Microdermis has committed significant resources — not the least of which is its expert medical and scientific ‘bench’ — to support the Ebola outbreak response,” Sweeney said. The company advanced its manufacturing goals seven months ahead of schedule to supply the initial deliveries for the military’s planned response, according to Sweeney. “Several members of the Microdermis team, including Major General Elder Granger, bring decades of military medical experience; hence they enable us to be responsive in support of the troops and healthcare workers in harm’s way,” he said.
Microdermis, 103 Carnegie Center, Suite 300, Princeton 08540; 609-803-3456. Mac Sweeney, CEO. www.microdermis.com.