Selenium Ltd, Austin, Tex, has received a Small Business Technology Transfer grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in support of the development of antimicrobial dental devices and water lines. The company’s SeLECTTM technology addresses the needs of many biomedical and industrial companies for a less expensive, more effective, and safer antimicrobial or antineoplastic coating technology. Julian Spallholz, PhD, and Ted Reid, PhD, are co-chief scientists of Selenium, and both are professors at Texas Tech University.

"The grant from the National Institutes of Health is an additional validation of the importance of our chemistry in dental and medical applications," said Selenium’s managing director, Kris Looney. "We will use this funding to develop proofs of concept of antimicrobial coatings to reduce risk of contamination or infection in the dentist office."

Selenium’s proprietary chemistry is able to inhibit microbial growth on surfaces through a natural, safe catalytic reaction that does not leach chemicals or toxins into the surrounding environment. The company was founded in 2004 based on discoveries made by Spallholz and Reid at Texas Tech University. Their work revealed that certain organo-selenium molecules are catalytic and produce super oxide radicals, resulting in a lethal, but short-range toxicity to surrounding cells. Thus, selenium-coated surfaces act as an impenetrable barrier to microbes and other cells, and selenium armed molecules will selectively destroy targeted cells.

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