Issam Raad’s early research evolved after he noticed that many patients undergoing chemotherapy were developing infections through indwelling central venous catheters. Those infections frequently progressed to systemic bacteremia, an often-fatal bloodstream infection.
In 1992, he was inspired to coat the catheters with antibiotics. Raad then demonstrated, in pre-clinical animal research, that the surfaces of central venous catheters could be coated with antibiotics, thus decreasing the rate of infection.
The first multicenter clinical trial in 1995 to assess the antimicrobial catheters among hospitalized patients showed more than a five-fold decrease in the bloodstream infection rate (Raad et al., Ann Intern Med, 1997), and a second clinical trial (Darouiche R, Raad I et al., N Engl J Med, 1999) found that the antibiotic catheters could reduce life-threatening infections by 12-fold when compared to conventional antiseptic-coated catheters. At least 20 studies had been completed by the time the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended in 2002 and 2011 that Raad’s catheters be used for all patients at high risk for bloodstream infections.
In addition to antimicrobial vascular catheters, Raad also developed similar antimicrobial devices to prevent ventriculitis/meningitis, central nervous system infections, pacemaker infections and urologic infections. These novel antimicrobial devices have become part of the standard of care and are widely used in the United States.
He also developed novel antimicrobial agents to prevent microbial biofilm and related resistance discovering that chelators are bioenhancers of antimicrobial agents in preventing biofilm. He has multiple patents for this novel technology which has also been recommended by the CDC in the use of catheter lock solutions in high-risk patients. His antimicrobial coating methods are also being applied to develop novel antiseptic gloves, nephrostomy tubes, drainage catheters, ventriculostomy catheters and endotracheal tubes. These additional innovations have been recently patented and licensed.
In addition, Raad has an octise research program that studies novel biomarkers of sepsis, novel antimicrobial catheter lock solutions and novel antimicrobial agents used in the prophylaxis and treatment of cancer patients particularly patients with hematologic malignancy.