Researchers at the University of New Hampshire led by assistant professor of chemical engineering Kyung Jae Jeong were trying to improve the efficacy of hydrogel injections and make them more useful in clinics. In result, they came up with a material that is very cheap and easy to produce and moreover heals wounds faster than present analogs.
The main problem with current hydrogel healing devices is that their structure is not porous enough to provide a sufficient entrance of neighbor cells through it toward the wound. Therefore, the process of regenerating of body tissue is rather slow. On top of that, it’s even harder to help those patients who suffer from compromised health issues that dramatically hinder this process even more.
However, UNH found a solution by combining two crucial components. For their new type of hydrogel, they chose microscopic gelatin gels and cheap enzyme (accelerators of chemical processes) – microbial transglutaminase (mTG). The first element was implemented because of its speciation similar to connective tissue in the body. The second one helps to make a hydrogel with sufficiently large pores that allow cells to pass and heal a wound.
Where is the money?
Basically, as a medical remedy hydrogel is used in a case when a patient needs to recuperate the tissue that was somehow affected or severely damaged by a certain illness such as diabetes that can lead to a development of diabetic ulcers. Apart from injectable hydrogel production, there are a lot of others segments of similar applications in the market that got investments of around $0.8 to $1.7 billion per major pharmaceutical companies by 2017 in order to provide efficient research. The sphere of injectable healers is quite specific, but the UNH team’s innovation could be implemented in a much wider range of clinic needs due to its powerful properties, not to mention the inexpensiveness of production which could make it very competitive. As researchers said their technique is likely to be applicable not only in skin treatment but even in cornea and internal organs surgery.
The techers: Kyung Jae Jeong