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Feasibility of Supercritical Carbon Dioxide Sterilization for Absorbable Suture…

Award Information

Department of Health and Human Services
Award ID:
Program Year/Program:
2011 / SBIR
Agency Tracking Number:
Solicitation Year:
Solicitation Topic Code:
Solicitation Number:
Small Business Information
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Woman-Owned: No
Minority-Owned: No
HUBZone-Owned: No
Phase 1
Fiscal Year: 2011
Title: Feasibility of Supercritical Carbon Dioxide Sterilization for Absorbable Suture M
Agency: HHS
Contract: 1R43GM096573-01
Award Amount: $100,000.00


DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): Over the past several decades there has been relatively little innovation in the arena of medical device sterilization. Ethylene oxide (ETO) and gamma irradiation (3-irradiation) are the only technologies currently available for medical devices. In particular, synthetic polymeric medical devices are sterilized almost exclusively by ETO due to undesirable chemical degradation and/or mechanical changes caused by gamma-irradiation. Gamma-irradiation requires cobalt-60 and these facilities are generally housed in large industrial or research institutions that can high operating costs associated with this technology. Suture manufacturers have expressed interest in moving from this process due to the short- and long-term effects of residual ETO in sterilized products, the fact that it is a recognized carcinogen, and the precautionary measures needed to operate around the toxic and explosive nature of ETO. Recently the EPA and other government agencies have started to monitor ETOin response to personal and environmental issues. Thus, development of alternative sterilization processes that are capable of achieving validated sterility assurance levels of 10-6 (SAL6) - the benchmark for medical devices - without the use of dangerousETO or damaging 3-irradiation is of great importance. The current proposed effort aims to advance NovaSterilis' supercritical carbon dioxide sterilization technology and produce a viable method to sterilize suture materials while maintaining suture mechanical properties. The NovaSterilis process is environmentally friendly and uses only carbon dioxide and a chemical sterilant that breaks down into benign compounds during the process. The proposed project will establish the optimal conditions using supercritical carbon dioxide sterilization technology that will maintain the baseline mechanical properties of sutures sterilized to SAL6. We will demonstrate SAL6 sterilization using supercritical carbon dioxide under ISO guidelines. We will also show the effectson cytotoxicity in vitro. Funding of Phase I will allow us to show feasibility of supercritical carbon dioxide as a method of overcoming the current limitations on sterilization options currently used for sutures. Terminal sterilization using our supercritical carbon dioxide process has the potential to add a one step validated terminal sterilization process to suture manufacturers and distributors while decreasing the costs and burdens associated with current ethylene oxide sterilization processes.PUBLIC HEALTH RELEVANCE: Supercritical carbon dioxide sterilization of commercial suture materials presents an environmentally safe technique that does not require harsh conditions currently in use by the suture industry. The future of wound healing is affected by the development of advanced synthetic wound closure materials that will not stand up to current sterilization regimens. There is a clear need in the health care industry for both new materials and safe, innovative approaches to materials sterilization that will eliminate any opportunity for disease transmission.

Principal Investigator:

David C. Burns

Business Contact:

Barbara Policay
Small Business Information at Submission:


EIN/Tax ID: 116158996
Number of Employees: N/A
Woman-Owned: No
Minority-Owned: No
HUBZone-Owned: No