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Acticoat Wound Care Products

Manufacturing Acticoat wound dressings is a laborious, 14-hour process called physical vapour deposition in which high-density polyethylene is fed through a pressure vessel whose vacuum chamber is filled with electrically charged argon gas. This binds the ionized silver particles to the material in a one-micron-thick layer. By comparison, the human hair is 80 microns thick.

The polyethylene material is ultrasonically bonded to a laminate backing, then packaged and sterilized with radiation.

Silver has long been used as an anti-microbial, but one hurdle concerning inventor Dr. Robert Burrell was that the chloride in skin causes silver to become inactive. His solution of using tiny particles allows for a slow release of silver ions seems to work. A single piece of Acticoat can remain on a wound for up to a week.

The dressing is used by most burn-trauma units in the United States, and brings in annual revenues of $10 million for Nucryst Pharmaceuticals of Wakefield, Massachusetts, a subsidiary of the Alberta company, Westaim Corporation.

A consumer version of the bandage containing lower amounts of silver is available over the counter at competitive prices.

Alberta Innovation 2004 Video: An Innovative Band-AidDr. Robert Burrell developed what is believed to be the world’s first commercial medical application of nanotechnology – a bandage that has revolutionized wound care and saved the lives and limbs of patients around the world. Watch it

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