by Dr. Meenakshy Varier on  August 27, 2020 at 1:37 PM Health In Focus
  • Would healing is a complex, dynamic, yet fragile process that requires an appropriate physiological environment to promote the growth of new cells
  • The unique molecular structure of hydrogels, along with its ability to absorb water, and a short gelation time, make it ideal for wound healing
  • Hydrogels are transparent, and their alkaline pH facilitates the proliferation of skin healing cells like fibroblasts and keratinocytes

The unique molecular structure of a novel alkaline material called hydrogel, makes it ideal for the process of wound healing.

Invasive surgeries are on the rise, and large wounds are an important aspect of such procedures. Wound healing in such cases is critical because interruptions in the healing process can lead to chronic, non-healing wounds.
Natural Alkaline Hydrogel Helps Promote Wound Healing

As the body ages, wound healing becomes a challenge, and therefore, it is important to identify innovative methods and materials for effective wound healing.

An undergraduate student Ryota Teshima, along with researchers from Tokyo University of Science, Japan, is behind the novel material with possible applications in wound healing. The findings are published in Polymers for Advanced Technologies.

Why Hydrogel

Wound healing is a dynamic process in which healthy cells replace a damaged group of cells and tissues. It requires an optimal physiological environment to promote the growth of new cells.

A type of material called "hydrogel" is found to help achieve such optimal conditions for wound healing, because of its unique molecular structure and biocompatibility. They adapt well to the biological conditions of the skin and tissues.

Hydrogels are three-dimensionally cross-linked networks of natural polymers that can absorb more than 95% of their water volume. It absorbs fluids from the wound, and continuously providing moisture into the wound, thus creating a highly suitable environment for the wound to heal.

Researchers developed the next level alginate hydrogel, using a natural polymer called alginate. Alginate is carbohydrate obtained from seaweed and therefore found in abundance. But the gelation occurs rapidly in the alginate

Previously, the gelation time was controlled using a slightly acidic (4-6) or neutral medium while simultaneously maintaining hydrogel transparency. But the recent findings indicate that a slightly alkaline pH (8-8.5) is better for promoting wound healing. The alkaline environment encourages the growth of skin healing cells like fibroblasts and keratinocytes.

"We have succeeded in preparing a novel alkaline alginate hydrogel (pH 8.38-8.57) suitable for wound healing via a method that requires no special equipment and can be carried out at room temperature. This, in addition to the fact that the hydrogel forms in 5 minutes, makes it ideal for potential use in any medical practice anywhere for superior wound healing.", says Mr. Teshima.

Alkalizing Hydrogel

The hydrogel was alkalized by mixing calcium carbonate and potassium alginate. Carbonated water was then added to this mixture, allowing the "gelation" (gel formation) process to take place.

The pH of the gel alkalizes because the carbon dioxide volatilizes after gelation. This method also helps to retain the transparency of the gel, allowing the wound to be assessed visually. The resulting hydrogels have a high water content of about 99%. these hydrogels also absorbed exudates from the wound successfully.

The hydrogels' shape was not compromised even after a week of immersion in physiological saline solution, though they did become weak.

In summary, Mr. Teshima says, "I have been experimenting with alginate gels ever since junior high school. There was also increasing interest in regenerative medicine when I was growing up, which compelled me to focus on the creation of useful biocompatible materials that can be used in medical therapy."

Well, there's no denying that this novel hydrogel developed by Mr. Teshima's team shows immense potential for near-future application to wound healing in medicine.

In the future, researchers hope to expand the application of the novel hyrdrogel beyond wound healing. Mr. Teshima says, "In the future, if it is possible to control the sustained release of an effective drug held inside it, this novel hydrogel can be used as a drug carrier as well."

Source: Medindia

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