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University of Missouri researchers get $1.2 million to study how to treat combat wound infections

Susannah Lohr
St. Louis Public Radio

The United States Army has granted $1.2 million to a University of Missouri researcher to study combat wound infections. The research will focus on non-intravenous, topical and localized antibiotic treatments.

A team of researchers from the University of Missouri is working to address a longstanding issue on the battlefield—antibiotic resistant superbugs in combat wounds.

Hongmin Sun, an associate professor of cardiovascular medicine at MU, and her team received a $1.2 million grant from the U.S. Army. Sun, who is leading the research, said many of the drug resistant infections require medical professionals to use strong antibiotics to treat them.

“Those very powerful, strong antibiotics tend to have lots of side effects that can be toxic to the patient,” Sun said.

Oftentimes the treatments lead to negative side effects like organ damage. In the U.S., nearly 3 million antimicrobial resistant infections occur each year, and roughly 35,000 people die from them according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Sun hopes their research will change those odds.

“The goal is to try to find the optimal regiment of a delivery approach, so that we can treat a wounded infection by those really bad bugs,” Sun said. “Hopefully, we can also minimize the side effects caused by the antibiotic treatment.”

Sun and her team will study different dosage regimens using micro-mist fusion technology. The portable device was initially designed to apply skin care products. Sun noticed the device had the potential to do more. The portable device allows the antibiotic to penetrate the wound without causing damage.

“You don’t need a lot of training to be able to use the device,” Sun said. “So, they can treat the wounded people on the side. And this technology can be incorporated at all levels of wound care like in a nursing home when you are treating a patient with a chronic wound.”

Once the first phase of research is finished, Sun said the goal is to get approval from the FDA for human trials. The grant lasts until August 2026.

Copyright 2023 St. Louis Public Radio. To see more, visit St. Louis Public Radio.

Marissanne Lewis-Thompson joined the KRCU team in November 2015 as a feature reporter. She was born and raised in Kansas City, Missouri where she grew up watching a lot documentaries on PBS, which inspired her to tell stories. In May 2015, she graduated from the University of Missouri with a Bachelor of Journalism degree in Convergence Journalism. Marissanne comes to KRCU from KBIA, where she worked as a reporter, producer and supervising editor while covering stories on arts and culture, education and diversity.
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