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Hydrogen Peroxide Microgel Powder Helps Wounds Heal Better

By HospiMedica International staff writers
Posted on 27 Nov 2018
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Image: A new study asserts that microgel powder can disinfect wounds (Photo courtesy of MTU).
Image: A new study asserts that microgel powder can disinfect wounds (Photo courtesy of MTU).
A novel microgel powder that generates antipathogenic levels of hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) through simple rehydration could provide a portable disinfectant, according to a new study.

Developed by researchers at Michigan Technological University (MTU; Houghton, USA), the microgel powder is based on Catechol, an adhesive moiety found in mussel adhesive proteins. When catechol autoxidizes following contact with solutions with physiological pH, it generates 1-5 mM of H2O2 for up to four days. The researchers studied the microgel's effects on thin-walled and gram-positive Staphylococcus epidermidis, the more impenetrable and gram-negative Escherichia coli--two common bacterial strains--and also against two viruses, bovine viral diarrhea virus (BVDV) and porcine parovirus (PPV).

The results revealed that sustained release of the low concentration H2O2 (several orders of magnitude lower than that previously reported for antipathogenic activity) was antimicrobial against the bacteria, and antiviral against both extremely resistant non-enveloped PPV and the easier to inactivate enveloped BVDV. Most notably, the microgels reduced the infectivity of the more biocide resistant non-envelope virus by a 3 log reduction value, a 99.999% reduction. The study was published on October 26, 2018, in Acta Biomaterialia.

“The microgels do not contain a reservoir for storing the reactive H2O2 and can potentially function as a lightweight and portable dried powder source for the disinfectant for a wide range of applications,” said senior author biomedical engineer Bruce Lee, PhD. “We haven't tested any antibiotic-resistant bacterial strains yet, but the more we can get away from using antibiotics in the first place, the better. We want to demonstrate under what conditions it promotes healing, and how a cell responds to it.”

Microgels are like tiny bubbles of Jell-o, in essence a polymer network. To the naked eye, the dry form is a nondescript powder. But when suspended in a solution with neutral or a slightly alkaline pH, such as distilled water or a saline solution, the micron-sized microgels start generating H2O2. Once the microgel powder is dried again, the material basically resets and can be reused, and its potency remains high. The powder can be used in space stations, remote areas, war zones, or practically anywhere.

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