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Water of Life

microcyn.jpgWith the right mixture, water and salt can work wonders.

Oculus Innovative Sciences, a Petaluma, California-based biomedical company, has developed a formulation of "ion-imbalanced, super-oxygenated" water which is able to kill bacteria, viruses and spores, but leave multicellular organisms unharmed. But not untouched -- the super-oxygenated water actually speeds healing of severe burns, diabetic ulcers, even necrotic flesh. The product is called Microcyn, and this week it received "510K" approval from the FDA as a medical device.

Super-oxygenated water was first developed in the 1990s in Japan as a means of disinfecting water in nuclear reactors. While early signs suggested it might have medical applications, researchers at the time couldn't figure out how to keep it stable for more than a few days. Prior to the development of Microcyn, hospitals paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for small amounts of super-oxygenated water for limited, time-constricted use. In 2000, Iranian-born biologist Hoji Alimi bought the license for the water, and his company, Oculus, spent the next three years figuring out the stability problem. Unlike earlier super-oxygenated water formulations, Microcyn has a shelf-life of at least a year.

And it's already transforming trauma care.

In early 2003 Oculus filed for approval with Mexico's Ministry of Health for Microcyn to be used as a disinfectant and an antiseptic for wounds. Dr. Andrés Gutiérrez, head of the cell therapy unit at the National Institute of Rehabilitation in Mexico City, was asked to test its safety and efficacy. "I was skeptical at first," he says. "Others have tried to do this before and have failed miserably."But he quickly discovered that the solution killed spores, fungi and viruses. It eradicated bacillus bacteria in less than a minute compared with 15 minutes for alcohol, which doesn't even kill spores. Satisfied that Microcyn was effective and nontoxic, the institute tested the solution on patients with diabetic foot ulcers. "The first thing we noticed was that the odor from the wound faded away in 24 hours. This had never happened before," says Gutiérrez.Doctors in Mexico are now using Microcyn on patients with varicose vein ulcers and on children with second- and third-degree burns. With other treatments the average stay for pediatric burn patients was 20 days. With Microcyn the length was cut in half, saving Mexican hospitals $18,000 per patient.

Microcyn is now being used in India, as well:

Dr. Amar Pal Singh Suri of the Diabetic Foot Care Clinic in Delhi, India, began experimenting with Microcyn after learning of it last fall in Germany. Trying it on a severe necrotic wound of a patient whose only remaining option was amputation, Suri said he was surprised to see rapid improvement and the growth of healthy skin tissue."I shifted my other patients onto Microcyn treatment and we are now treating more than 50, with very good results," said Suri.

Microcyn works by surrounding and rupturing the cell walls of single-celled organisms. It can't harm multicellular organisms, as it can't surround the cells and is pH-neutral.

The applications of Microcyn appear to be enormous. It could be used for hand-washing and spot sterilization in hospitals, and is being considered as a dental and pre-operation disinfectant. Moreover, as it physically disrupts cellular structure, it won't be subject to the same rapid adaptation plaguing antibiotics. While it's conceivable that microbes could evolve an ability to resist the effects of ion-imbalanced water, that would be a much bigger leap than simply evolving altered gene markers or chemical receptors.

Microcyn will be available to US hospitals by June 2005.

Comments (5)


This LifeStraw looks rather nifty: it turns dirty water into clean, bacteria-free water. Not marketed yet unfortunately.

Could you swim in it?!

Erik Ehlert:

It will be interesting to see if Ocular stops at the product or decides to license the process. Could this liquid be added to wastewater or even municipal water as a sustitute for florine/chorline?


When will this Co. go public, or why does`nt
Johnson& Johnson buy them?
Sounds great !


You can buy Microcyn™ in its veterinary version, Vetericyn™

INGREDIENTS: Oxidized Water, Sodium hypochlorite (NaOCl), Hypochlorous acid (HOCl), Hydrogen peroxide (H2O2), Ozone (O3), Chlorine dioxide (ClO2), Hydroxide (NaOH), Sodium Carbonate (Na2CO3), and Sodium Chloride (NaCl)

While the research data are preliminary, doctors are enthusiastic about the solution's potential. Microcyn has been approved as a disinfectant in the U.S., Mexico and Europe, and for wound care in Canada, Mexico and Europe. If the solution wins Food & Drug Administration approval for wound care--a decision is due by late March--the privately held Oculus could clean up: Chronic wound care is a $4.3 billion global market, and consumer wipes another $4.5 billion. The best part, the company says, is that the solution has a shelf life of two years. Some antiseptics break down after hours or days.
Holy Water: Can a dash of electrically charged liquid heal life-threatening burns and wounds?


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