Nanomaterial can accelerate Wound Treatment


Nowadays these kinds of serious wounds are treated with systemic antibiotics or topical antibiotic/antimicrobial pharmaceutical preparations but both methods have shortcomings. Researchers at the University of Tartu are working on antimicrobial drug-loaded electrospun nanofibrous matrices for local wound healing to make the treatment of chronic wounds more effective.

Karin Kogermann, Associate Professor of physical pharmacy at the University of Tartu, explained that antibiotics have side effects and antimicrobial preparations need frequent dosing but it is also known that their efficiency drops if wounds exudate or biofilm occurs. “Additionally, one very big problem of using antibiotics is that bacterial sensitivity to antibacterial substances decreases and this leads to the need for long-term drug treatment,” she said.

Nanofibrous matrices have several important features for wound treatment. Kogermann brought some examples: “High surface area, high porosity, possibility to merge different drugs, antibacterial substances, and a fibrous structure that imitates the extracellular matrix of the tissues.” She added that developing antibacterial drug-containing wound dressing could help to reduce the systemic effects and toxicity associated with antibiotics.

PhD student Liis Saks noted that nanofibrous matrices are much more than just patches because they need to guarantee the effective access of oxygen to the wound, protect the wound from microbial contamination, be capable of absorbing wound exudate, and ensure effective antibacterial substance concentrations in the wound.

Illustrative scanning electron microscopy images of differently designed drug-loaded electrospun matrices. Different morphology of fibres: left (10,000x magnification), middle (3,000x magnification). A developed antibacterial wound dressing (right)
Illustrative scanning electron microscopy images of differently designed drug-loaded electrospun matrices. Different morphology of fibres: left (10,000x magnification), middle (3,000x magnification). A developed antibacterial wound dressing (right)

Work in Progress

Kogermann’s project of designing and developing nanofibrous wound dressing[1] consists of several stages. Firstly, her research group examines the preparation of wound dressings and their mechanical and technological features. Secondly, they look at the biopharmaceutical features of the dressings, such as drug release and dissolution, and the materials’ antimicrobial effect in vitro and in vivo. “Ultimately, we want to develop a real antibacterial wound dressing,” Kogermann said.

The project started in the beginning of this year and lasts until the end of 2019. For now, the research group has nanofibrous matrices with different compositions and they are testing features and efficiency. In addition, they have already worked out several in vitro methods to test the biological activity of the matrices. “So far, results show that electrospinning is a good method for making matrices, and model drugs remain stable during the process. Also, for now, we know that modified dissolution tests and ultraviolet imaging are suitable methods for testing the release of the drug,” Kogermann explained.

At the moment the research group is planning further in vivo tests to show how effective the matrices are for healing an infectious wound.

Great Goals

Kogermann described the project as interdisciplinary research that has real clinical significance. “The knowledge we get about the antibacterial matrices and wound treatment as well as the analysing methods is invaluable and gives us a real possibility to create an actual medicinal product,” she said.

Liis Saks added that technology used for creating the matrices should be quite easy to use in mass production as well. “We see great potential to produce modern wound matrices that would bring along a qualitative jump in the effectiveness of treatment and the patients’ quality of life,” she said.

Basically, the research group is trying to find solutions for improving the efficiency of antibacterial preparations in an environment where antibiotic-resistant bacteria, antibiotic tolerant bacteria and/or persister cells occur. According to Kogermann, these solutions could help to optimize the efficiency of treatment. “As there is no big pharmaceutical industry in Estonia as of yet, all pharmaceutical research has great importance for the development of both Estonian pharmacy and science,” Kogermann added.

Karin Kogermann is co-operating with different units of the University of Tartu within the Faculty of Medicine as well as with different institutes and departments of the Faculty of Science and Technology (Institute of Technology, Institute of Chemistry, and Department of Geology). The project also involves international collaboration with other European universities: the University of Helsinki, University of Copenhagen, and University of Tromsø.

[1]„Design and Development of Multicomponent Antibacterial Nanofibrous Dressings for Advanced Wound Care“

This article was funded by the European Regional Development Fund through Estonian Research Council.

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