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Research / Discovery

Chemistry researcher named one of six 2010 inaugural Boettcher Investigators

June 30, 2010

The Boettcher Foundation on Wednesday named Colorado State University chemist Melissa Reynolds one of only six 2010 Boettcher Investigators as part of the Webb-Waring Biomedical Research Program, which helps recruit, retain and advance scientific talent in Colorado.

Biocompatible coatings for medical devices

Melissa Reynolds, assistant professor with a joint appointment in chemistry and with SBME, has been named a 2010 Boettcher Investigator.

Reynolds is an assistant professor with a joint appointment in the chemistry department and the School of Biomedical Engineering. Reynolds is developing biocompatible coatings for medical devices that would create a natural and safe approach to healing by allowing implanted materials to be left in the body longer without rejection.

Reynolds is the only researcher from Colorado State University to receive the honor, which comes with a three-year, $200,000 grant. She joins researchers from the University of Colorado, National Jewish Health and the Colorado School of Mines in the inaugural class of Boettcher Investigators.

Improve human health, treatments

“We are grateful to the Boettcher Foundation and the Webb-Waring Foundation for this prestigious award and providing Dr. Reynolds’ opportunities to, in the early part of her career, continue to advance her research,” said Colorado State University President Tony Frank. “Research benefiting human health has paramount importance for our society, and CSU is committed to supporting the exploration that can yield innovation to advance and improve medical treatments. We are extremely proud to have Dr. Reynolds as a member of our distinguished research faculty.”

Reynolds is developing materials in her chemistry laboratory that contain nitric oxide – a gas that is a helpful, naturally occurring substance within the human body despite its reputation for negative effects on the physical environment.

Prevent complications and promote healthy cell growth

Within the body, nitric oxide is needed to prevent blood from clotting on itself. Additionally, Reynolds said, it can help kill cancer cells while also promoting healthy cell growth. Her materials can be used to coat medical devices such as stents, vascular grafts, and heart valves and help the devices do what they’re supposed to do: provide medical treatments without causing complications in the surrounding cells or tissues.

Currently, many medical implants need frequent replacement or face rejection because the materials used to make the devices – such as metals and plastics – aren’t compatible with the human body.

“Boettcher’s support of this research is exciting because it is cutting edge and this Early-Career Investigator award could really accelerate Dr. Reynolds’ research career,” said Bill Farland, vice president for Research at Colorado State. “Dr. Reynolds and the chemistry department at Colorado State are known for their innovative research, and our undergraduate and graduate students benefit from learning from such top-notch scientists.”

The American Heart Association has reported that cardiovascular disease is a primary reason health-care costs nationally are expected to reach $503 billion in 2010. Developing safer and more effective medical implants is one solution to reducing those costs and improving patient care, Reynolds said.

Patent application filed, company formed

Reynolds has filed a patent application and formed a company for accelerating the time to market for biocompatible coatings. However, more research is needed to look at how nitric oxide reacts with certain cell types and to determine the appropriate dosages needed to prolong the longevity of medical devices.

The company, Diazamed, holds an option to license the patent application and was created with the help of the Colorado State University Research Foundation and NeoTREX, the commercialization arm of the Cancer Supercluster at the university. The goal of NeoTREX is to translate research discoveries into products that aid in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer. NeoTREX is a division of CSU Ventures, Inc., a non-profit corporation.

Reynolds has also received a grant from the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade as part of the state’s effort to increase the research and development of new bioscience technology in Colorado’s research institutions and to accelerate commercialization of new discoveries.

Contact: Emily Wilmsen
Phone: (970) 491-2336