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A BETTER BANDAGE

A start-up company led by a Kenmore dentist has received approval for a new medical bandage with international sales potential, but the product will probably not be made locally.

MedWrap, the new company, got Food and Drug Administration approval this month to market a barrier dressing with the antibacterial triclosan. The wound-care product is designed to stop bacterial growth and prevent the staph infections that can lead to serious post-surgical complications, including death.

Similar anti-bacterial dressings currently on the market use silver nitrate, which is more expensive than triclosan and tends to stain wounds.

The local company will explore trying to sell the U.S. and Canadian marketing rights to a major medical products company, such as Johnson & Johnson, or keep the rights and have the product manufactured by a company in Tennessee.

Dr. John Dobos, the dentist behind the product, said he has not been able to find a local company equipped to manufacture the bandage.

"Quite honestly, I don't think we have a local company that's big enough to take on this product and sell it. I would love for it to stay in Buffalo, because everything about this project has been in Buffalo," said Dobos, who is team dentist for the Buffalo Destroyers and Buffalo Blizzard.

The bandages need to be made in a "clean room" certified by regulators to manufacture surgical products, said Ronald Mabry, a Buffalo businessman who partnered with Dobos in developing the product.

Mabry's company, Flexo Transparent of Buffalo, manufactures printed plastic packaging for Rubbermaid, Proctor & Gamble, and other companies. His plant is not equipped to make surgical products.

"I would have to start a separate company to do that. The old concept of a plant within a plant doesn't work very well," Mabry said.

If the product ends up being made outside Buffalo, a local company could still be contracted to do the warehousing and distribution, Mabry said.

MedWrap exists only as a corporate entity, a limited liability company with no actual offices. Dobos said he will concentrate on other intellectual property he has in development.

"We feel that our strength as a company will be in developing more intellectual property," Dobos said.

His partners in the new product also include David Roach, an attorney with the Tonawanda firm Blair & Roach, and David Grana, an accountant with the Amherst firm of Grana & Tiebel.

The journey started in 1995 ago when Dobos' wife, Karen, injured her knee skiing.

She had surgery at Millard Fillmore Hospital to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament. During recovery, she had to keep the wound dry for two weeks.

"Every time she would shower, I would get out the duct tape and the Saran Wrap and try to fix it so she could take a shower," Dobos said. "If she didn't have the good sense to blow out a knee, I don't think I would have ever come up with this idea."

Dobos got the idea for a knee wrap made with polyethelene. He had virtually given up on the idea at one point, but regained interest through his part-time job as a medical reporter for WGRZ-TV.

He was working on a report about Gaymar Industries, a medical products company in Orchard Park, and that rekindled his interest in the bandage project.

A mutual friend introduced Dobos to Mabry, who has patents on plastic products for cooking chicken and containing body fluids from medical tests.

Mabry helped Dobos incorporate one-way film into the bandage, which traps the fluid escaping the wound inside the dressing.

Most of the product components are licensed from other companies. The applied exclusion technology, for the "ouchless" part of the bandage, comes from a Massachusetts company. The triclosan is licensed from a North Carolina company.

Triclosan has become an increasingly popular antibacterial agent over the last decade. The chemical is used in hundreds of household items, such as soaps, dishwashing liquids and acne treatments.

But recent research has begun questioning the effectiveness of triclosan. Dr. Maura Meade, a biology professor at Allegheny College in Pennsylvania, has identified 23 strains of bacteria that are resistant to triclosan.

"There are quite a few bacterias that are resistant to triclosan. They will, in fact, use it for food," Meade said. "It's tough to determine if those bacteria were naturally resistant to triclosan, or if they developed the resistance."

The antibacterial does a good job stopping staph growth, she said.

The primary market for the product will be hospitals, nursing homes and home health-care companies, Dobos said.

MedWrap has 20-year patent rights to the bandage. The company also has patents pending in about a dozen other countries.

The next step will be the choice between selling the rights or hiring a contract manufacturer, Dobos said.

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