Researchers with Sweden’s Chalmers University of Technology have detailed the development of a seemingly futuristic hydrogel that may one day be used as a dressing to protect wounds. The hydrogel is described as highly effective against all varieties of bacteria, including the increasingly problematic antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
The hydrogel material features small proteins called antimicrobial peptides, which are naturally found as part of the immune system. These peptides have been the subject of various potential medical applications over the years, but there has been a consistent problem: bodily fluids quickly break them down.
This newly published study details a nanostructured hydrogel that eliminates this problem, resulting in a material that isn’t toxic and that can be used to directly apply the antimicrobial peptides to the skin without them quickly degrading. Though the hydrogel could be put to use in various products, the researchers envision it primarily as a wound care dressing.
Such material may offer hospitals and the general public an alternative to antibiotics to both protect against and help treat various wound infections. The material may help address the problem of antibiotic-resistant bacteria by both treating it and reducing reliance on the antibiotics that drive it.
According to the university, the company Amferia AB is looking to bring the hydrogel material to market, an effort that will require clinical studies, among other things. The material is currently in testing throughout Europe at multiple veterinary clinics and clinical studies are underway.