Category: Ondine Biomedical Inc

Ventilator Acquired Pneumonia: A Large Problem for Hospitals

Although hospitals are centers of refuge for those who need care, an unfortunate reality is that the number of people coming in and leaving these facilities inevitably results with the spread of disease and infections between patients, doctors, and other health care workers. These unintentionally transmitted diseases, born in hospital settings, are collectively known as Hospital Acquired Infections (nosocomial infections in medical literature). This class of disease results in over  99,000 deaths each year in the United States alone.

One significant form of nosocomial infection is Ventilator Acquired Pneumonia (VAP) which, as the name suggests, is pneumonia (an inflammatory condition of the lung) transmitted to patients while they are on mechanical ventilator breathing support. The incidence of this disease is between 8% and 20%, and mortality rates are between 20% and 50%. As a result, VAP has a critical impact on morbidity, length of stay, and cost of ICU care.

A significant contributor to such high rates of incidence and morbidity is the fact that patients on mechanical ventilation systems are often sedated and are rarely able to communicate or cough up the biofilm that grows in the tubes and drains down into the lungs. Typical symptoms of pneumonia may be absent or unobservable, leading to delays in detection and therefore treatment.  Under these conditions, the medical signs that a patient has acquired pneumonia are increased number of white blood cells on blood testing and new shadows (infiltrates) on chest x-rays. Other important signs are fever, low body temperature, purulent sputum, and hypoxemia (decreasing amount of oxygen in the blood).

If any of these symptoms are suspected by care takers, two conventional methods of diagnosis are deployed. The first is to collect cultures from the trachea while also scanning the chest with an x-ray to detect new or enlarging infiltrates. The other method is more invasive and involves a bronchoalveolar (where fluid is squired out small areas of the lung and recollected for examination), as well as a chest x ray.

Treatment regimens depend on the specific bacteria causing the inflammation, although a widely used first step is the prescription of empiric therapy (broad spectrum antibiotics) until the particular bacterium and its sensitivities are determined. Once the specific microorganisms implicated in generating pneumonia are known, more antibiotics are prescribed. The use of antibiotics raises the issue of resistance from the bacteria, and the related decrease of efficacy of the antibiotic in the years to come.

Photodisinfection is a non antibiotic approach under development by the research and development teams at Ondine Biomedical Inc., for the decolonization of the tubes of long term intubated patients. Pre-clinical studies have demonstrated proven effects of Photodisinfection directed toward the inner surface of the endotracheal tubes. The Exelume™ Photodisinfection system is currently being tested in NIH funded clinical trials in the US. Other Photodisinfection applications under development by Ondine include:  periodontitis, chronic sinusitis, burns & wounds, UTI, vertical transmission of HIV, nasal decolonization to reduce SSI, GI infection protection, etc.

Food For Thought: Antibiotic Resistance Generated in Food Production

The expression “food for thought” is often used proverbially more than literally, although results from FDA reports make it necessary to consider how our food and livestock are processed and put serious thought into the food we eat. To make the case immediately apparent, consider that four fifths of all antibiotic consumption in the USA is not human consumption; it’s consumed by farm animals. To quantify this statement, in 2011, 7.7 million pounds of antibiotics were consumed by American people, while 29.9 million pounds went into meat and poultry production.


Antibiotics Sold to Livestock Industry vs. Sold for Human Consumption.

The proportion of antibiotics fed to livestock is not a recent issue, it has been growing and the problems that arise from it have accumulated for over 50 years. An alarming development of bacteria that had grown drug resistant due to antibiotics in the livestock industry is MRSA (short for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) which is a persistent threat to human health. Estimates indicate that MRSA kills 19,000 Americans each year, hospitalizes 370,000, and results in billions of dollars of additional health care spending. The intent of these statistics is not to frighten, but to raise awareness concerning administering millions of pounds of antibiotics annually to artificially boost animal growth. Maryn McKenna wrote a book chronicling the rise and danger of these superbugs (

What is important to note is that a vast majority of the provided antibiotics is not to target infections or better animal health. It is administered at a herd or flock wide basis through the animals water source or feed to promote growth and weight gain, as well as to preventatively help livestock survive harsh farm and living conditions. This is one reason why antibiotics are used, another is for therapy. Therapy is used when farm animals exhibit clinical diseases, and drugs can be an effective way to prevent catastrophic health risks that could be detrimental to the agricultural sector.

Administering antibiotics to animals is not an inherently bad thing to do, although it can become detrimental if done without caution and concern. The FDA’s report on the application of antimicrobial drugs in industry warns that “the development of resistance to this important class of drugs, and the resulting loss of their effectiveness as antimicrobial therapies, poses a serious public health threat”. In this article, the main point is not to suggest entirely eliminating antibiotic consumption in the livestock industry, but to manage it judiciously by targeting specific diseases. Another significant argument is that farmers and food corporations should “voluntarily” withdraw from using drugs which have a functional similarity to drugs used in humans, since this would reduce the concern for transmitting resistive bacteria on to humans through our food. Use of antibiotics for livestock growth promotion has been banned by many European countries, as they have determined that similar investment in more food resulted in the same growth yields without the additional antibiotic resistance generation.

It is evident that we can no longer take how our food is produced for granted. The expression food for thought is no longer some overused metaphor, it is a reality.

Ondine Salutes the Dedicated Clinician and Caregiver

It takes a certain kind of person to be a great clinician and caregiver. In a world full of opportunities for education, talent and hard work, it takes a special kind of person to dedicate their lives to the pursuit of better patient outcomes.

It is a life of service, long hours, and often, lack of appreciation.

The personal sacrifice is always greater than anyone truly understands, and yet doing more for people in their hour of need is the greatest reward.

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A Winning Team: Ondine fights for Patient Safety and Better Outcomes!

It takes a certain kind of person to work for a small Canadian Medical Devices R&D company…not just anyone can make the cut. First of all you need raw talent and horsepower to make the team. Then, you need a lot of heart, stamina and a great deal of dedication to the mission. You need to feel the passion. Combining passion with talent creates the makings of success….and we aim to succeed. Our goal is to save lives and improve patient outcomes around the world. Our people are our greatest assets, and we continue to battle a world of resistance. As this year draws to a close, it is natural to look back on the year and its triumphs and its frustrations. 2012 was a challenging year for Ondine as I struggled to get myself back together again. I am so very proud of this amazing team that did their very best and wish to sincerely thank each individual for their extraordinary contributions made over this past year. They both motivate and inspire me to fight the good fight.

From The Heart: A Personal Message From Ondine CEO Carolyn Cross

Creating new medical devices is not for the faint of heart.  One needs more than just a passion to prevent unnecessary deaths and improve the lives of mankind. One needs the conviction and the strength that come from a divine inspiration as well as the love and support of a large community of friends and family.  Without a doubt, championing a new technology in Canada is one of the hardest ventures that anyone can choose….and yet, I know that I am privileged to be tasked with this challenge.

Some of you know that I was recently in a terrible accident. When one looks at the circumstances surrounding my miraculous saving, it can only be the result of intervention of God and the Universe. I can count at least 17 miracles that occurred simultaneously to enable my survival on that fateful day. Surviving a plane crash is highly uncommon, we all know this. But having been up in the plane, having made my peace and having sent out my goodbyes, it was a true shock that I would be spared…and the only thought that went through my mind, at the time of that ordeal and every day since then, was that I was spared because I was needed in order to continue to champion photodisinfection. I believe with every fibre in my body that what we are doing at Ondine was important enough that my life needed to spared for this purpose.  This is the kind of conviction that is needed to take on the challenge of creating new life saving technologies and to overcome the constant barrage of negativity, doubt and disappointments.  Just as I was beginning to lose hope and stamina, I was given a big reminder of how fortunate I am to be able to carry on this mission.

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How Ondine Biomedical Addresses A World Of Growing Antibiotic Resistance

In 1969, the US Surgeon General William Stewart declared that the human race had won the war against bacteria. It was thought that bacteria would never be able to figure out how to develop resistance to the new complex antibiotics that had been created and that scientific researchers would always be able to stay well ahead of the bacteria. Today, it is well known that bacteria have reversed this situation and that the antibiotic resistance war is far from being over.

It is estimated that there are about 17 million people in the US alone annually suffering from painful and potentially harmful biofilm infections. To me and my colleagues at Ondine, we understand that certain bacteria have become dangerous and remain a threat to all of us. Every single one of us knows of a person who died, or nearly died, of an infection. Many of these people have died from infections acquired while in hospitals, a place where most of us think is safe. This just was not the case 20 years ago. This prevalence of deadly infections could not have been expected in 1969.  Our society’s overuse and misuse of antibiotics (over 25 million pounds of antibiotics are given to livestock every year) have led to greater threats to humanity. At the same time, the enormous costs and regulatory burdens have led to fewer new antibiotics being developed. Clearly the battle rages and we as humans have not been very strategic about our critical weapons. Read More

Ondine Sponsored Pee Wee Hockey Team, The Unionville Jets, Win Gold For Canada!

Congratulations to The Unionville Jets Pee Wee hockey team on winning one for Canada! We couldn’t be more proud of you guys.

After coming off a win at the Shamrock tournament in Scarborough, the ’99 or Peewee Unionville Jets select team took their first bus trip to an out of town hockey tournament last weekend. Destination…the ‘Rock’n Roll’ Tournament in Cleveland Ohio.  It was an exciting weekend as bands like the Red Hot Chilli Peppers were being inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of fame.

Ondine sponsored Unionville Jets Pee Wee hockey team celebrates their gold medal

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Ondine’s Photodisinfection Technology Being Developed To Treat Chronic Sinusitis

Photodisinfection is a highly effective antimicrobial therapy involving non-thermal light and a topically placed photosensitizer. It is currently being used for the treatment of oral infections and nasal decolonization of MRSA and S. aureus. Photodisinfection is also being currently used for the treatment of endotracheal tube biofilms to prevent ventilator associated pneumonia. One of the areas of medical need identified for photodisinfection is for the treatment of chronic sinusitis that has failed surgical and medical therapies. It is estimated that there are more than 500,000 of these people suffering in the US alone, and this number grows by 10% annually.

Polymicrobial biofilms, many of them antibiotic resistant, have been significantly implicated in the etiology of this chronic indolent disease process and its associated inflammatory processes.  Preclinical studies we have conducted demonstrate the effectiveness of photodisinfection to selectively photoeradicate a broad spectrum of biofilm micoorganisms, including antibiotic resistant S. aureus, P. aerugenosa and fungal species, without causing injury to tissue or mucosa.

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Ondine’s Latest Hire: Leonie Markhorst, Communications Extraordinaire

It is with great pleasure that we add Leonie Markhorst to the Ondine family. As our new Marketing Coordinator, Leonie is responsible for managing the projects and internal communications that will help bring Ondine’s technology to even more patients and healthcare providers.

A Dutch native, Leonie graduated from Utrecht University with a Bachelors degree in Communications. At age 19, she founded a successful online jewellery business before beginning her career as an Internal Communications Specialist for a large global organization. There, she was responsible for the operational tasks within her department, managed corporate events for up to 1,500 attendees, and acted as an advisor to line management. In 2011, she moved from the Netherlands to Vancouver to pursue bigger opportunities.

In her spare time, Leonie enjoys fashion, interior design and dance. She is fluent in three languages and is a contributing editor for a renowned online fashion magazine. The Ondine team is extremely pleased to have Leonie join us, and we cannot wait to get her started on some very exciting projects!

Ondine Honours A Canadian Hero – Donald W. Black

Donald W. Black with Leanne Carlson

Ondine Biomedical Inc. wishes to congratulate Donald W. Black, a long time friend and supporter of our company. Don has been awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, recognizing his lifelong contributions to his peers, community and country over the past sixty years. Don is the recipient of other prestigious Canadian honours, including the Order of Canada, the Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Medal, and the Saskatchewan Order of Merit.

Don was born, raised and educated in Regina, where he has spent the majority of what has been a successful, distinguished, and diverse career. Don is currently the Chair at Greystone Managed Investments and Greystone Capital Management, the investment firm whose success he is largely responsible for.  Throughout his career, Don has been actively involved in the community, leading many charitable organizations including the CNIB “That All May Read” National Capital Campaign, the United Way of Regina Leadership Giving Campaign, the Tomorrow Fund, and the RCMP National Heritage Center.

Don Black is a generous man, quick to smile and never misses the opportunity to make a positive impact on the people and world around him. His friends at Ondine are very proud of this extraordinary man and wish to congratulate him on this well deserved recognition.

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