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.
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.
Chalmers University of Technology, Gothenburg, Sweden
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.
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.