By using the ancient application of silver as an anti-microbial, Fort Saskatchewan
researcher Dr. Robert Burrell developed what is believed to be the first commercial application of
nanotechnologythe "science of small."
Through privately owned Westaim Biomedical of Fort Saskatchewan and the University of
Alberta Faculty of Medicine and Oral Health Science, Dr. Burrell developed the silver particle-infused
Acticoat bandage. This wound care product saw a high-profile use in treating burn victims of the 2001
terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and in Bali, Indonesia.
Dr. Burrell began his research in 1991 after considering the historical use of pure
silver as an anti-microbial. The silver particles used in his wound dressings are microscopic (as small
as 20 atoms in size), speed healing, and prevent scarring.
In an early development, the dressing was used to treat a woman suffering from the
rare and potentially fatal skin disease, toxic epidermal necrolysis, in which an auto-immune reaction
caused the entire outermost layer of her skin to slough off, her body left an open wound.
To her doctors, who were concerned over the cost of using Acticoat compared to
conventional dressings Burrell explained that it could be left on for longer than a conventional treatment.
So they went ahead and did itthey wrapped her from head to toeand this patient, who they were concerned
about surviving, in fact left the hospital eight days later almost totally healed. She was 95 percent
In 2003, Dr. Burrell became one of five federally funded scientists at the University
of Albertas Faculty of Engineering. He now holds the position of Canada Research Chair in Nanostructured
Biomaterials. And in 2004, he was nominated for the 2004 Alberta Science and Technology Foundation (ASTech)
Alberta Innovation Video 2002: An Innovative
The Heritage Community Foundation is pleased to
present this feature video segment from the Alberta Innovation 2004
documentary courtesy of Alberta Innovation and Science
Dr. Robert Burrell developed what is believed to be
the worlds first commercial medical application of nanotechnology a
bandage that has revolutionized wound care and saved the lives and limbs
of patients around the world.
The Heritage Community Foundation is pleased to present this feature
article, courtesy of Alberta Ingenuity.
Dr. Burrells work applies nanotechnology, the science of arranging
atoms and molecules to create tiny machines and new materials. Alberta
has become a centre for nanotechnology research through the National
Institute for Nanotechnology at the University of Alberta. To find out
more about some research projects emerging from this centre of science,
click below to link to the Alberta Ingenuity website.
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Heritage Community Foundation All Rights Reserved