Who

The World Health Organization describes antibiotic-resistant bacteria as one of the greatest threats to global health. The specially designed hydrogel works against all types of bacteria including antibiotic-resistant ones.

What

The new material kills bacteria and prevents wound infections. The bactericidal hydrogel’s active substance consists of antimicrobial peptides — small proteins found naturally in our immune system. There is a very low risk for bacteria to develop resistance against them since they only affect the outermost membrane of the bacteria. The peptides, however, break down quickly when they come into contact with bodily fluids such as blood. To combat this, the researchers developed a nanostructured hydrogel into which the peptides are permanently bound, creating a protective environment. The new material allows the peptides to be applied directly to wounds and injuries on the body, both preventing and treating infection. The material is also nontoxic, so it can be used directly on the skin. The material is currently in the form of a wound care dressing but has potential to be used as a wound care spray.

Where

Chalmers University of Technology, Gothenburg, Sweden

Why

An antibacterial patch is soon approaching commercial usage. (Anna-Lena Lundqvist/Chalmers)

Resistant bacteria can cause what is referred to as hospital-acquired infection — a life-threatening condition that is increasing in incidence worldwide. The new material could help reduce the use of antibiotics.

When

Research on the hydrogel has run in parallel with the product development of the innovation within the spinoff company Amferia. The wound patch version of the new material is undergoing trials in veterinary care for treating pets. Before the new material can benefit hospitals and patients, clinical studies are needed, which are ongoing.

Contact: Martin Andersson, Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, Technical Surface Chemistry, at Chalmers University of Technology at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; +46 317 722 966.


Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the August, 2021 issue of Tech Briefs Magazine.

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