Indian researchers have developed an ointment derived from wood that can speed up healing of burn injuries, check infection and preclude the need for repeated dressings. The starting point of the unique water-based gel is lignin, the major component of wood (15-30 percent) and one of the most abundant renewable feedstock.
“This hydrogel has multiple uses. It is a dressing material, an anti-infective ointment, a drug carrier and also has anti-inflammatory properties,” scientist Ranadhir Chakraborty, of OMICS Laboratory, Department of Biotechnology, University of North Bengal (NBU), told IANS about the innovation documented in Nature Scientific Reports in April this year. Explaining the motivation for the work, Chakraborty highlighted the clever mechanism adopted by bacteria in infecting the burn wounds and avoiding the destructive effects of antibiotics.
“What happens in burn wounds… when patients suffer from third-degree burning, they suffer from severe infection. The infection occurs not because of the burning but because the burn patient has to be dressed regularly and the wound dressing invites some nasty pathogens from the air and that makes the whole thing untreatable,” he said. “Basically, these pathogens are bystanders, always present in the environment, but in these cases, they start growing on the wound,” he added. Moreover, because these communities of bacteria grow inside their own protective bubble (called a biofilm), this shields them from the action of antibiotics.
“So, we thought if we could design certain dressing materials which can stay on for a longer period of time and release the drug slowly to the wound, then that will be pertinent management for burn treatment. Repeated dressings and application of fresh ointment over the burnt region is not required with our innovated ointment,” he said about the ointment tested on laboratory rats with skin burns.
The work has been done in collaboration with scientists at the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, NBU, and Rush University Medical Center, Chicago. The paper states that the biocompatible hydrogel was developed from “renewable lignin after surface modification with a hydrophilic polyoxazoline chain by chemical grafting approach which showed versatile benefits to speed up the wound healing process”.
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