A new era in wound care

Programmable hydrogels could also be used for sustained drug release
Published: 12 February 2024

Hydrogels are engineered materials, which absorb and retain water and are currently used in various medical treatments, including dressing wounds. The problem with current hydrogels is that they adhere indiscriminately to all surfaces, which means that wound dressing can potentially damage delicate tissue as it is healing.

McGill researchers have discovered that it is potentially possible to manipulate the way that surfaces of hydrogels are arranged to program not only where they will adhere, i.e. to some surfaces and not to others, but also with what degree of intensity, and how fast the adhesion can establish overtime.

When it comes to wound care, this means that the adhesive gel can be programmed to form strong bonds with healthy tissue and weak bonds with wounded tissue, preventing secondary damage.

“This work is potentially of benefit to surgeons, since it will allow them enough time to accurately place an adhesive that only adheres to the desired location but not others,” says Zhen Yang, a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at McGill University and the first author of the article that was recently published in PNAS. “The next step in the research is to see how this discovery could also benefit the design of medical devices which are intended for sustained drug release on tissue surfaces.”

About the study

“Programming hydrogel adhesion with engineered polymer network topology” by Zhen Yang et al was published in PNAS

About McGill University

Founded in Montreal, Quebec, in 1821, McGill University is Canada’s top ranked medical doctoral university. McGill is consistently ranked as one of the top universities, both nationally and internationally. It is a world-renowned institution of higher learning with research activities spanning three campuses, 11 faculties, 13 professional schools, 300 programs of study and over 39,000 students, including more than 10,400 graduate students. McGill attracts students from over 150 countries around the world, its 12,000 international students making up 30% of the student body. Over half of McGill students claim a first language other than English, including approximately 20% of our students who say French is their mother tongue.

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