An Assistant Named Hydrogel

An Assistant Named Hydrogel

A research team from the Faculty of Chemistry of Brno University of Technology has developed a new procedure for hydrogel preparation. Their hydrogel contains nano containers functioning as carriers of various types of medicinal substances. This innovative procedure has a sterile preparation and incorporates up to 100% of active substances.

Hydrogels have been known to mankind for centuries. Their use ranges from the manufacturing of paper and yarn to gastronomic applications. At present, gels are used, in addition to food processing, for the manufacture of disposable nappies, contact lenses, glues and breast implants. Hydrogel is a continuous 3D structure (mesh) binding a large volume of water, as the name suggests. The structure may be stabilised by chemical or physical interactions and may be formed by inorganic or organic substances.

The Material Research Centre’s research workers, Ing Tereza Venerová, Ph.D., Ing. Filip Mravec, Ph.D. and Professor Ing. Miloslav Pekař, CSc. have been studying physically bound biopolymer-based hydrogels for a long time. Biopolymers are polymers compatible with, and degradable under, physiological conditions. There is a broad range of polymers, with the greatest attention paid to sodium salt of hyaluronic acid. This indigenous human body substance not only forms the hydrogel itself but also positively contributes to a quicker and more comfortable wound healing process by its very presence, being an effective antioxidant and helping hydrate problematic complexions.

The abovementioned team’s research has focused on the substantial improvement of hyaluronic acid based hydrogels for the purpose of wound healing. The added nano containers not only form an integral part of the hydrogel structure but also prevent microbial growth by their presence and, in an environment with a high water level (more than 90%), they are able to carry otherwise insoluble biologically active substances (medicinal substances). When acting on the wound, these substances are then directly carried to the place where they are needed and can assist quicker and in a more sparing way than therapy. The structure and composition of the hydrogel makes it biodegradable.

The research’s most substantial contribution is development of the hydrogel preparation procedure allowing for the gel’s production under sterile conditions wherever it is needed (in a medical surgery, at home), and for 100% binding of biologically active substances. This may beneficially be used for the application of active substances that are hard to isolate, and for reduced waste of medicinal substances in general.

In this way, gels with different mechanical properties may be produced and thus they can be tailor-made for particular applications. The gels may be produced in a broad range of consistencies, from liquid to very solid. The prepared gels can be frozen or dried, with their inner structure and function being completely restored after heating or rehydration. Thanks to the nano containers, the gels work as a reservoir system for various biologically active substances.

A patent application has been filed for the new procedure of nano container containing hydrogel preparation.


Author of the text and picture: Filip Mravec

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