Riccardo Gottardi, Principal Investigator of the Ri.MED Foundation and – with dual affiliation – Head of the Bioengineering and Biomaterials Laboratory at the Childrens’ Hospital of Philadelphia was awarded for his research aimed at preventing subglottic stenosis in children and named “Young Innovator of Cellular and Molecular Bioengineering” from the official journal of the Biomedical Engineering Society. Subglottic stenosis is the narrowing of the upper airways (specifically in the tract just below the vocal cords) caused by a buildup of scar tissue, which can occur during intubation: bacteria accumulate and cause chronic inflammation. The condition requires invasive surgery, which carries risks, particularly for the pediatric population. The team led by Gottardi has found a way to reduce inflammation, and therefore avoid the onset of stenosis, by modulating the endotracheal microbiome through the use of antimicrobial peptides.
Gottardi’s team created a coating that can be applied to endotracheal tubes and deliver antimicrobial peptides that specifically and selectively target infectious bacteria. After demonstrating its efficacy using in vitro models, the researchers went one step further using also ex vivo and in vivo models to demonstrate how their antimicrobial peptide-releasing endotracheal tube (currently patent pending) significantly reduced the inflammation, thus resolving the stricture.
“I am honored by this exciting recognition from Cellular and Molecular Engineering,” said Dr. Gotthards. “We hope that our airway innovation will be as successful in human trials so that we can improve the conditions of young intubated patients.”