As WIMTACH continues to assist health care industry professionals with innovative research, several individuals from the Centennial College community have proven to be instrumental in contributing to social change. This is particularly true of the partnership with Navco Pharmaceuticals which led to the successful creation of a novel antimicrobial skin guard or barrier cream called the Invisible Glove. The success of this cream is due in part to the great contributions of the WIMTACH research team which consists of Chief Principal Investigator and Professor, Dr. Siyam Subair; Co-principal Investigator, Professor Nurul Hassan as well as Student Researchers: Islam Albadawi and Tarandeep Bansal. The project was also successful because of the great coordination efforts of the WIMTACH Project Coordinator and the WIMTACH Research Manager.
While hand washing is still the most widely recommended way for the general public to prevent the spread of pathogens and micro-organisms, alcohol hand sanitizers offer individuals a flexible way to protect against micro-organisms when water might not be available. However, frequent handwashing with soap and the use of alcohol sanitizers can cause skin irritation, dryness, cracks, and lead to health risks if there is exposure of deeper skin tissues. The invisible glove uses skin-friendly emollients and alcohol-free active ingredients, which keep hands hydrated. Additionally, it does not pose a fire hazard risk for professionals that work with Bunsen burners in labs. This cream also offers a sustainable alternative to traditional gloves used by healthcare professionals and lab workers who require the added protection of a barrier during work. The novel cream is biodegradable and is said to provide long lasting effects up to 4 hours and thereby reducing synthetic Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and landfill waste. “The [World Health Organization] guide acknowledged hand washing alone wouldn’t be sufficient to do because there are microbes which can hide in the skin (the dermal) and still may not be washed off,” said Professor Subair. “And again hand washing can be varied with the way people do it because if you do proper hand washing for 20-seconds with soap, it would wipe out [micro-organisms] but not many people do it.”
Creams like the Invisible Glove offer a gentle way to protect against contact-based disease transmission for health care professionals who are allergic to latex gloves. Additionally, the Invisible Glove uses Navco Pharmaceutical’s trademarked antimicrobial nanotechnology and their Computerized Nanometer Algorithms (CNA), resulting in a reliable hand sanitizing cream, that is well-suited for sensitive skin. This Nano-particle, called BioactiveTM is a non-toxic, non- flammable, alcohol-free hand sanitizing property that protects against pathogens. Navco Pharmaceuticals representatives were very pleased with the outcomes of the project. Dr. Tarek Bader, a scientist at Navco Pharmaceuticals was content with the collaborative experience of working with the WIMTACH research team and the results of their efforts. “The expectations have been met. It was just an amazing experience,” he said.
The development of the cream was successful with the help of volunteers who wore the cream at differing intervals and lengths to test the cream’s efficacy in repelling microorganisms. In all, this process required over 14 different formulas before the development of the final version of the cream. This project collaboration enabled both Tarandeep and Islam to enhance their learning experience. “It’s not just a project, it’s with an industry partner so we are making a real difference,” said Islam. “It’s such an interesting and enriching experience for a student to have. It gives you the hands-on experience of how research is done.”
Tarandeep and Islam spoke highly of the trust that was extended to them. They were enabled to play a major role in the development process of the cream and work independently to simulate the real experience of leading a research development project. For instance, they were enabled to directly connect with representatives from Navco Pharmaceuticals to learn more about communication skills in a professional setting. More, they enhanced their critical thinking, time management, and problem-solving skills during critical turning points during research. Professor Subair especially emphasized independent thinking to encourage both Tarandeep and Islam to be fully autonomous and self-assured in their researching skills. “It was very good in terms of exposing us, exposing an international student to how research goes on in Canada and how you have to collaborate (being in an educational or a research and institutional background), and manage things with an industry partner,” said Tarandeep. “Overall it was a test on every skill that we learned during our study curriculum.”
This project was very important to Professor Subair and Professor Hassan. Professor Subair was especially keen on providing a full and pragmatic learning experience for Islam and Tarandeep to develop their confidence. In doing so, he entrusted the students with the ability to successfully complete a research project from the beginning to the end of a project cycle. He made little interferences during the development process of the cream and instead, opted to provide clear steps and guidelines for both students to follow while acting as a mentor to lead them through the correct procedures for completing different tasks. “My interventions were at points where they feel it is overwhelming, but other than that it was going at its own pace,” he said. “We didn’t have much problems.”
This project also proved to be beneficial for Professor Hassan. “Actually I learned from the process and the whole experience, [things like] time management and how to effectively use chemicals in a laboratory. These were all new learning experiences for me as well.” He noted that an important feature of the project was that it enabled them to have easy access to students for research. “I also felt that it’s a perfect blend and combination of social aspects to the scientific research as well because we work in the [Centennial College] academic setting and within the lab so it was easy for us and for the participants as well to recruit [students],” he said. The project was so successful that WIMTACH and Navco Pharmaceuticals are pursuing a second partnership to further develop the cream.
Ultimately, the entire team was very pleased with the results of the hand sanitizing cream. “When we all applied it on to our hands we were so happy,” said Professor Subair. Developing the cream was so rewarding for both Islam and Tarandeep, they are still reflecting on all the useful skills they’ve attained throughout the process. “When professor Subair started the formulation and we all started using it on our hands … after 4-hours I actually saw that there was a lot of reduction [in micro-organisms] and I was like, wow! We actually made something that works,” said Islam. “I will never forget it.”
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