Drew Marquardt is working toward putting a new oral hygiene product on drugstore shelves with help from the W. Garfield Weston Foundation.
Marquardt, a second-year PhD student in physics, recently received the $20,000 W. Garfield Weston Fellowship in Entrepreneurialization. The award will support his research into the development of a more effective treatment for two common oral hygiene issues: plaque buildup and mucositis.
Plaque buildup is associated with gum irritation, the periodontal disease gingivitis, and eventual tooth loss. Oral mucositis is a painful side effect of radiation therapy and chemotherapy occurring in cancer patients whereby the mucosal lining of the mouth becomes red, inflamed and prone to ulcers.
In his research proposal, Marquardt explains that treatments for these conditions are typically an oral wash that is expelled from the mouth after rinsing. That leaves little time for the drug to work on treating the problem.
The goal of his research will be to develop an antimicrobial system that provides long-lasting treatment by allowing the drug to adhere to the plaque surface and infected area.
A few other advantages to this system include a treatment that will taste better, has less potential to stain teeth, and doesn’t have to be applied as often.
“This product will be administered in a similar fashion as standard mouthwash and oral sprays. However, once the liquid is expelled, lipid aggregates will remain in the mouth on biofilm buildup or the infected area,” Marquardt says. “Further applications will be optimally timed to remove persistent surviving bacteria, rather than regularly scheduled applications for multiple weeks.”
Once Marquardt has the product developed, he will move into the second phase of the project involving sales and marketing with the potential of licensing partnerships with oral health product manufacturers.
“The goal of this research is to produce a product that will have the same impact in the market as a mouthwash had many years ago,” he says.
Brock University worked closely with the foundation to set up this award with an expressed interest in recognizing a graduate student who demonstrates academic excellence and an entrepreneurial spirit.
This is one of two major research projects that Marquardt has on the go. He is also the recipient of a prestigious Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship for his research that looks at whether Vitamin E’s location in a cell membrane plays a role in a human cell.