These three issued patents involve the use of Nucryst's silver for the treatment of acne, inflammatory skin conditions such as atopic dermatitis, and hyperproliferative skin disorders such as psoriasis.
Nucryst's platform nanotechnology is based on materials that on conversion to nanoscale exhibit different physical properties from bulk silver or other noble metals.
Compared to bulk material silver, Nucryst's silver in nanocrystalline form is in a higher energy state and exhibits enhanced solubility. Acticoat antimicrobial barrier dressings with Silcryst nanocrystals represent the first application of Nucryst's platform technology.
Nucryst now possesses 18 issued patents and 22 pending patent applications in the United States as well as 60 corresponding patents and 38 corresponding pending patent applications in other major markets around the world.
"The pursuit of patent protection for the results of our ongoing pharmaceutical discovery and development efforts is an important part of our growth strategy," said Scott Gillis, President & CEO, Nucryst Pharmaceuticals.
"We now have patents covering use of our unique form of nanocrystalline silver for the three therapeutic areas which comprise the largest share of the US prescription dermatology market."
According to IMS data, the top 10 dermatology topical products generated $1.6 billion (€1.3 billion) in US sales in 2004. Of this total, more than 70 per cent of product sales were for the treatment of atopic dermatitis, psoriasis and acne.
Nucryst is currently researching potential pharmaceutical products containing an active pharmaceutical ingredient, referred to as NPI 32101.
This can be used in the treatment of gastrointestinal disorders and, in particular, has begun to explore its use to treat inflammatory bowel disease, which includes ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease.
Atopic dermatitis, a form of eczema, is a chronic, inflammatory disease of the skin affecting more than 15 million people in the United States. Incidence rates are thought to be similar in other industrialised countries.
The hallmark of the disease is pruritus (itchiness). The disease ranges from an occasional irritating rash to persistent and widespread inflammation covering much of the patient's body.
Due to the inflammation, itching, and scratching, the skin of a person with atopic dermatitis is more likely to become infected with bacteria or viruses than someone with normal skin.
The illness most often presents in infancy and childhood. Scientists estimate that 65 per cent of patients develop symptoms in the first year of life and 90 per cent develop symptoms by the age of five.
The latest estimates suggest about 50 per cent of patients will have symptoms recur in adulthood.