Superfund Research Program

June 2019

Sara Hearon, Tim Phillips, and Meichen Wang

Phillips, center, pictured with co-authors and SRP trainees Sara Hearon, left, and Meichen Wang, right.
(Photo courtesy of the TAMU SRP Center)

Researchers at the Texas A&M University (TAMU) Superfund Research Program (SRP) Center have developed a new technology that can bind to hazardous chemicals in the body after exposure, reducing their uptake in the body. This technology, known as broad acting enterosorbent materials, can be added to food or water to reduce exposure to harmful mixtures of contaminants following natural disasters and other emergencies. It has been patented and granted a worldwide exclusive license to Texas EnteroSorbents, Inc. for commercialization.

Developed by Tim Phillips, Ph.D., and his research team, the enterosorbent materials are made of nutrient-enriched calcium and sodium clays and can bind to complex mixtures of a wide range of hazardous substances, including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, polychlorinated biphenyls, dioxins, furans, pesticides, and metals. By binding to these harmful substances, the enterosorbents reduce the amount that can be absorbed by the body to potentially cause harm.

The Phillips lab has demonstrated that the enterosorbent materials decrease the toxicity of harmful contaminants using Hydra vulgaris, an organism with very low tolerance for hazardous substances. With the new exclusive license, the team aims to develop these materials so they can be delivered in food items during emergencies and natural disasters to reduce the toxicity of harmful contaminants and protect human health.