Fayetteville's TiFiber Develops Potential Replacement for Triclosan

Fayetteville's TiFiber has announced an exclusive license to commercialize synthetic, antimicrobial polymers that could replace the controversial antibacterial agent triclosan.

The antimicrobial polymers (AMPs) are biocompatible and in tests have proven highly effective against fungi and bacteria such as E. coli, S. epidemidis, P. aeruginosa and S. aureus. TiFiber's AMP product will be used in bar soap products from Bradford Soap Works, founded in 1876 and based in West Warwick, R.I.

Bradford is considered one of the world's leading soap manufacturers, and its researchers will work with TiFiber to develop the products.

TiFiber licensed the technology from the University of Auckland in New Zealand and its commercialization company, Auckland UniServices Limited.

The use of triclosan and triclocarban as active ingredients in antibacterial soaps, body washes and other products is becoming controversial. Triclosan is alleged in animal research to have altered hormone regulation and possibly led to the development of antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria. 

The Federal Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency are studying the long-term effects of triclosan on human health, and TiFiber hopes to stay ahead of the curve by developing a triclosan-free product in partnership with Bradford.

"We are pleased to have one of the most established, innovative soap companies in the United States working with us to bring safe, effective antimicrobial products to market," said Dr. Mike Rutherford, TiFiber's chief scientist. "We believe we are just beginning to discover the major, positive impacts TiFiber’s antimicrobial polymers can have to improve the safety and efficacy of products all of us use every day. Bradford’s proactive, scientific approach is exactly what we were seeking in a development partner."

Chris Buckley, executive vice president of business development for Bradford, said the partnership with TiFiber will enable it to retain a large segment of the soap market should the FDA ban the use of triclosan.

"Bradford is very excited to partner with an innovative company like TiFiber, a company on the forefront of high-performance ingredients," he said. "Antibacterial soaps represent a significant segment of the soap market. Bradford is working to ensure that our customers have a viable alternative to triclosan and triclocarban should the FDA rule against their usage."

TiFiber, an Innovate Arkansas client firm and a portfolio company of VIC Technology Venture Development, believes it can adapt the AMP technology to a wide range of uses including soaps, acute and chronic wound care, medical devices, cosmetic preservatives, dental composites, textiles, surgical hand cleaners and additives.

TiFiber's AMP product research has been supported by private investment and economic development incentives from the Arkansas Science & Technology Authority, the Arkansas Development Finance Authority and the Arkansas Economic Development Commission.

"TiFiber has a bright future with the liklihood of creating numerous science and engineering jobs in Arkansas," said Calvin Goforth, CEO of VIC and interim CEO of TiFiber. "Financing and tax credits available from the state are targeted to help create these types of jobs, and they played a critical role in the launch of TiFiber and the rapid progress the company has made."