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Programmable Hydrogels for Surgical Wound Care Could Also Enable Sustained Drug Release

By HospiMedica International staff writers
Posted on 15 Feb 2024
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Image: Programmable hydrogels could usher in a new era in wound care (Photo courtesy of 123RF)
Image: Programmable hydrogels could usher in a new era in wound care (Photo courtesy of 123RF)

Hydrogels are engineered materials known for their capacity to absorb and retain water. They are extensively utilized in various medical applications, including wound dressing. However, the challenge with existing hydrogels lies in their non-selective adherence to surfaces. This indiscriminate adherence can lead to potential damage to delicate tissues during the healing process when used as wound dressings.

Now, researchers at McGill University (Quebec, Canada) have found that it's possible to engineer the surface properties of hydrogels in a way that allows control over their adhesion properties. This innovative approach means that hydrogels can be tailored to adhere specifically to certain surfaces while avoiding others. Moreover, the intensity of this adhesion, as well as the rate at which it is established, can be finely tuned.

In the challenging field of wound care, this breakthrough offers significant benefits. The adhesive quality of the hydrogel can be programmed to form robust bonds with healthy tissue while only creating weaker connections with wounded tissue. This selective adhesion is key in minimizing secondary damage to healing tissues, enhancing the overall effectiveness and safety of hydrogel-based wound dressings.

“This work is potentially of benefit to surgeons, since it will allow them enough time to accurately place an adhesive that only adheres to the desired location but not others,” said Zhen Yang, a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at McGill University. “The next step in the research is to see how this discovery could also benefit the design of medical devices which are intended for sustained drug release on tissue surfaces.”

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