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August 2013

Natural healing with Kisameet clay

For generations, Kisameet clay has reportedly been used by the Heiltsuk First Nations for healing injuries and ailments.

Found in the glacial deposit at Kisameet Bay on the British Columbia coast, the clay, now trademarked as “Kisolite”, is naturally antimicrobial.

Kisameet Glacial Clay Inc. has exclusive rights to harvest the clay for commercial use.  But the company needed solid scientific evidence of its medicinal properties prior to going to market.

With Mitacs-Accelerate, they enlisted the research expertise of PhD candidate Shekooh Behroozian, along with Sarah Svensson who is completing her postdoctoral studies, from the laboratory of Julian Davies at UBC’s Department of Microbiology and Immunology to investigate.

“We have already confirmed the antibacterial property of Kisameet clay against a wide range of bacterial strains. The research is focusing on the mechanism of activity and what makes this clay antibacterial in order to define a consistent preparation for therapeutic applications,” explained Behroozian.

Their academic supervisor, Dr. Julian Davies, explained that the research may go further, and examine the clay for other medicinal properties.

“First Nations reportedly used the clay for a long time, but its use is all in legend.  We know it has antimicrobial qualities as it doesn’t just stop them growing, it kills them.  We want to look further and find out what other qualities it may have and whether if it can be refined into a consistent product.”

Intern Sarah Svensson said Mitacs Accelerate has enabled her to take her basic research beyond the university and apply it to a practical setting.

“Mitacs allows for interaction between my academic work and the company which has been a huge learning experience.  I’ve spent most of my life working in academia so this has given me a unique exposure to industry.”

Lawry Lund, President, Kisameet Glacial Clay Inc. explained that the research done by the group is key to providing scientific backing before commercializing the clay for healthcare use.

“Mitacs helped connect us with Shekooh, Sarah and Julian so we could carry out third party, validated scientific research that will be published.  If the clay is found to have medical applications, we’ll be able to state this with sound backing of qualified university research, giving the product more credibility.”

 


Mitacs gratefully acknowledges the Government of Canada, the Networks of Centres of Excellence's Industrial Research and Development Internship program, Western Economic Diversification, and the Government of British Columbia for their support of Mitacs Accelerate in the province.