Education Policy | Post Primary | Preschool | Primary | Tertiary | Search


Research pair wins Proof of Concept Grant with filling fix

26 August 2011

Otago research pair wins Proof of Concept Grant with filling fix

Development of silver nanoparticle-based materials for treating dental caries has won two University of Otago researchers the 2011 Otago Innovation Proof of Concept Grant worth $50,000.

Senior Lecturer in the Otago School of Dentistry Dr Don Schwass and Chemistry Lecturer Dr Carla Meledandri are together researching the application of silver-nanoparticles as a way to deliver and maintain antibacterial effects deep within the tooth.

Their aim is to create a product that eliminates bacteria and prevents their recurrence under and around fillings.

The Proof of Concept Grant will help fund their efforts to prove that these ultra-small nanoparticles are effective on teeth, as well as to conduct toxicity studies and then take the work to a stage that will interest dental materials manufacturers

The pair say the project began with Dr Schwass’s interest in new strategies for prevention of dental caries (tooth decay).

“I was twenty years in private practice as a dentist,” says Dr Schwass, “so I saw the limitations of existing treatment approaches and early intervention strategies. Most restorative materials break down over time allowing bacterial infections to reactivate. I was looking for a product that could effectively eliminate bacteria, providing lasting protection even when materials start to fail.”

Dr Schwass felt the chemical compound silver diamine fluoride showed real promise, but when applied on teeth it leaves an unappealing black silver fluoride deposit on the cavity surface of carious lesions, which is not particularly desirable for a dental product.

“Subsequent application of potassium iodide can turn this black deposit into a more appealing white colour, but the concentrations at which these chemicals need to be applied to impart the desired effect is surprisingly high.

“I then had a chance encounter with Carla at a speed-collaboration exercise for Otago academic researchers where we got to discuss our interests for two minutes,” he says.

Dr Meledandri says, “Don came up to me afterwards and said, ‘about those nanoparticles you’re interested in...’”

In partnership with Dr Schwass, Dr Meledandri developed suspensions of silver nanoparticle-based materials which testing showed to have tremendously potent anti-bacterial qualities at very low concentrations. At these concentrations, the nanoparticle suspensions appear pale yellow in colour, or more often, completely colourless, solving the aesthetics problem.

Otago Innovation, the University of Otago’s commercialisation arm, will work closely with the researchers as the project advances, assisting them in translating their project into a marketable product.

Otago Innovation Commercialisation Manager David Christensen says all University of Otago researchers are invited to enter the annual competition for the Proof of Concept Grant. The competition is intended to encourage researchers to consider possible commercial applications for their work. The grant itself is intended to assist the winning research project transition from the point of initial discovery toward commercialisation.

“This year we had over a dozen applicants from a broad range of disciplines,” Mr Christensen says. “The competition panel short-listed that down to three. The probability of Don and Carla’s work succeeding, the potential for a robust patent position to be created around it, their professionalism, credibility and competence combined to win them the prize.”


© Scoop Media

Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines


Howard Davis: Emerald Fennell's Promising Young Woman'

The Guardian needed not one, but three reviews to do justice to Fennell's unsettling approach, which indicates exactly how ambiguous and controversial its message really is. More>>

Howard Davis: Jill Trevelyan's Rita Angus

Although Angus has become one of Aotearoa’s best-loved painters, the story of her life remained little known and poorly understood before Jill Trevelyan's acclaimed and revelatory biography, which won the Non Fiction Award at the Montana New Zealand Book Awards in 2009, and has now been republished by Te Papa press. More>>

Howard Davis: The Back of the Painting

Painting conservators are the forensic pathologists of the art world. While they cannot bring their subjects back to life, they do provide fascinating insights into the precise circumstances of a painting's creation, its material authenticity, and constructive methodology. More>>

Howard Davis: Black Panthers on the Prowl

A passionate and gripping political drama from Shaka King, this is an informative and instructive tale of human frailty that centers around the charismatic Chicago Black Panther leader Fred Hampton, who was murdered at the age of twenty-one during a police raid. More>>

Howard Davis: Controlling the High Ground

Stephen Johnson's raw and angry film not only poses important questions with scrupulous authenticity, but also provides a timely reminder of the genocidal consequences of casual bigotry and xenophobia. More>>

Howard Davis: Dryzabone - Robert Conolly's The Dry

After the terrible devastation caused by last year’s bushfires, which prompted hundreds of Australians to shelter in the ocean to escape incineration and destroyed uncountable amounts of wildlife, The Dry has been released during a totally different kind of dry spell. More>>

Howard Davis: Hit the Road, Jack - Chloé Zhao's Nomadland

Nomadland is perhaps the ultimately 'road' movie as it follows a group of dispossessed and disenfranchised vagabonds who find a form of communal refuge in camp sites and trailer parks after the economic contraction of 2008. More>>



  • Wellington
  • Christchurch
  • Auckland